Dennis Westlind

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Oregon Minimum Wage to Rise to $8.50/Hour in 2011

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries recently announced that Oregon’s minimum wage will increase by ten cents to $8.50 an hour effective January 1, 2011.  Oregon’s minimum wage has been $8.40 an hour since January 1, 2009.  Click here to read Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian’s press release on the minimum wage increase.  As a … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Approves of “Preemptive” Fitness for Duty Examination

Yesterday the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision approving of an employer’s use of a "preemptive" fitness for duty examination for an employee who exhibited bizarre and erratic behavior in the workplace, even though that behavior had not yet impacted his job performance.  Click here to read the full opinion in Brownfield v. City … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Invalidates Nearly 600 Decisions Made by Two-Member NLRB

This morning the United States Supreme Court issued a highly-anticipated decision in New Process Steel v. National Labor Relations Board, ruling 5-4 to effectively invalidate almost 600 decisions made by the NLRB during the time it only had two members.  Normally, the NLRB is comprised of five members, but typically delegates its powers to decide most cases … Continue Reading

Court Dismisses Lawsuit Against Oregon Mandatory Meeting Law

Last week a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit aimed at blocking SB 519, the Oregon law the prohibits employers from requiring employees to attend meeting about, among other things, labor unions.  Click here to read the District of Oregon’s opinion in Associated Oregon Industries v. Avakian.  SB 519, passed by the Oregon legislature in 2009, … Continue Reading

Oregon Supreme Court: Employers Are Not Required to Accommodate Medical Marijuana

Yesterday the Oregon Supreme Court conclusively ruled that employers are not required to accommodate the use of medical marijuana in the workplace, ending years of doubt and confusion on this critical issue. Click here to read the Court’s opinion in Emerald Steel Fabricators, Inc. v. Bureau of Labor and Industries. In Emerald Steel, a drill … Continue Reading

IRS Issues HIRE Act Affidavit

The Internal Revenue Service released yesterday Form W-11, the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act Employee Affidavit.  Employers can use the form to claim the special payroll tax exemption that applies to many newly hired workers during 2010.  Click here to download a copy of Form W-11. The HIRE Act, which President Obama signed into law on … Continue Reading

How Does the Heath Care Reform Package Impact Employers?

The health care reform legislation passed by Congress places significant new responsibilities on employers, group health plans, insurers, and individuals. The Stoel Rives Employee Benefits team has developed the following overview of the most significant issues affecting employers and group health plans, in order of effective date. (click on CONTINUE READING" for the full text of the overview). Effective … Continue Reading

President Obama Uses Recess Appointments to Fill NLRB, EEOC Seats

This week President Obama announced that he would make recess appointments to fill vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  The move allows the White House to bypass the Senate confirmation process, which promised to be extremely contentious.  The appointments will add two Democratic members to the … Continue Reading

President Obama to Sign Jobs Bill Today

President Obama is today expected to sign the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act, which in its final form passed The House of Representatives 217-201 on March 4 and the Senate 68-29  on March 17.  Click here to download the final version of the HIRE Act. Key provisions of the HIRE Act include: An exemption … Continue Reading

Oregon Legislature Passes Five Employment-Related Bills in Special Session

The Oregon Legislature recently completed its 2010 Supplemental Session.  Among the bills passed by the legislature include five employment-related bills.  Click on the bill number to download a copy of the actual bill: SB 996:  Expands protections for public employees who report law violations or safety dangers to include discussions on those topics with elected … Continue Reading

Senate Jobs Bill: Tax Incentives to Hire Unemployed, but no COBRA Subsidy Extension

Yesterday the U.S. Senate  voted 70-28 to approve the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act, a $15 billion bill aimed at creating jobs, helping small businesses, and rebuilding public infrastructure.  However, the bill does not include a further extension of the current COBRA subsides for unemployed workers, nor does it increase funding for state … Continue Reading

Oregon Legislature Bans Workplace Credit Checks

This week the Oregon House voted to prohibit employers from using credit histories for any employment purposes including hiring, discharge, promotion and compensation.  The Oregon Senate passed the bill last week, and Governor Ted Kulongoski is expected to sign the bill into law effective July 1, 2010.  Click here to download a copy of the bill, SB 1045.  … Continue Reading

EEOC Proposes New Age Discrimination Regulations

Today the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) releases new regulations that will define employers’ "reasonable factors other than age" or "RFOA" defense under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).  The new regulations would reflect two Supreme Court cases interpreting the RFOA defense: Smith v. City of Jackson (2005) and Meacham v. Knolls Atomic Power Laboratories (2008).  Click here to … Continue Reading

When Is It Okay to Cuss Out Your Boss?

Most of us assume that if an employee swears at a manager or, he or she can be disciplined or even fired.  That assumption may be wrong, depending on the context in which the swearing occurs.  A federal judge recently held that the Federal Aviation Administration violated federal labor law when it removed a local union president from its premises … Continue Reading

Federal Government to Crack Down on Misclassified “Independent Contractors?”

It’s always risky to misclassify someone who should be an employee as an "independent contractor," but President Obama’s 2011 budget proposal will increase the risks for employers.  According to this budget summary from the U.S. Department of Labor, the misclassification of employees as contractors is estimated to cost the Treasury Department over $7 billion in lost payroll … Continue Reading

Homeland Security Announces Temporary Protected Status for Haitian Nationals

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced last week a temporary protected status ("TPS") for Haitian nationals who were in the United States as of January 12, 2010.  The temporary status  will allow eligible Haitian nationals to continue living and working in the United States for the next 18 months.  "Providing a temporary refuge for Haitian nationals who … Continue Reading

COBRA Subsidy Extended Through February 28, 2010

As originally enacted as part of the 2009 stimulus package, the COBRA subsidy provided up to nine months of health insurance premium assistance for covered workers who were involuntarily terminated on or before December 31, 2009.  Last week, President Obama signed a bill that extends the COBRA subsidy for involuntarily terminated employees in two ways:  First, it extends the eligibility period … Continue Reading

Our Festivus Present to Oregon Employers: Ten Things You Should Know for 2010

Wow, it’s Festivus already, which means that in just a few short days it will be a brand new year!  We have a Festivus present for Oregon employers to help you get ready:  Ten things you need to know for 2010!  (click on each blue hotlink for more information) All Oregon employers are required to post the SB … Continue Reading

Oregon Employers: Download SB 519 (Mandatory Meeting Ban) Notice Here!

Back in June, we reported on Oregon SB 519 – the law taking effect January 1, 2010 that will prohibit Oregon employers from disciplining any employee who refuses to participate in communications concerning the employer’s opinions on religious or political matters – including labor unions.  SB 519 also requires ALL Oregon employers to post a … Continue Reading

Supreme Court to Review Text Message Case; Primarily of Interest to Public Employers

Yesterday the United States Supreme Court agreed to consider whether a police officer has a reasonable expectation of privacy in text messages sent using his department-issued pager.  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled earlier this year that the officer had such a privacy right.  Click here to read the opinion below in City of Ontario, California v. Quon.  In Quon, … Continue Reading

9th Circuit: Independent Contractor Can Assert Disability Claim Under Rehabilitation Act

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled recently that an independent contractor may assert a disability claim against an employer under the Rehabilitation Act.  Click the link to read the opinion on Fleming v. Yuma Regional Medical Center.  The Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs conducted by Federal agencies, in programs receiving … Continue Reading

Washington Domestic Partnership Law Impacts Employee Benefits and Family Leave

Washington voters recently approved Referendum 71, giving registered domestic partners all of the rights and responsibilities of married couples under Washington state law.   Prior domestic partnership laws gave registered domestic partners limited rights and responsibilities such as hospital visitation, health care decision making, inheritance and community property rights.  The new law includes all of the rights … Continue Reading

Oregon Expands Flu Hotline

Beginning today, November 12, the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) is offering expanded service on the Oregon Public Health Flu Hotline.  Oregonians can call 1-800-978-3040 between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Monday-Friday, or 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on weekends and holidays for information on the flu, including the H1N1 (or "swine flu") virus.  Three services … Continue Reading

New Salt Lake City Ordinances Prohibit Housing and Employment Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation

Yesterday the Salt Lake City Council unanimously passed ordinances prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.  Click here to download a copy of the City Council’s Staff Report on the ordinances, along with full text of the new laws.  Highlights of the employment discrimination ordinance include: Forbids employment discrimination based on … Continue Reading
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