We continue to stay up to speed on workplace-related legal issues as we all navigate this challenging time. Many of you attended the webinar we put on today, Taming the COVID-19 Chaos: What Employers Need to Know. The materials from that presentation are available here. Please join us for another webinar next Wednesday, March
Karen O'Connor is a partner in the firm's Labor & Employment group whose practice includes counseling and litigation on complex employment issues including leave laws, workplace harassment and discrimination, discipline and documentation, and drug and alcohol issues. She represents clients before Oregon and Washington state and federal courts and in administrative proceedings. Karen co-teaches in the human resources program at Portland State University and is a frequent speaker in the community.
Click here for Karen O'Connor's full bio.
With COVID-19 (coronavirus) impacting communities in the Northwest and around the U.S. and world, employers are wondering what role they can play in keeping their employees safe and healthy. Don’t panic! Your current policies and practices are probably sufficient to handle any issues that may affect your workplace. But here are some general recommendations. (See…
Starting in 2023, Oregon employers with at least 25 employees must provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of paid leave for a covered purpose (family, medical, or “safe” leave). The program will be funded with payroll contributions (40% employer/60% employee), the amount of which depends on an employee’s wages. Benefit amounts will be…
Oregon’s Legislature just enacted the most significant legislation for Oregon employers in years. The new Workplace Fairness Act has been hailed as a #MeToo law and seems intended to curb incidents of sexual harassment in the workplace, but its reach is significantly broader than that.
Key Changes and Takeaways
- Employers are now required to have
Oregon’s new Equal Pay Act and “Pay Equity Analyses” are all the rage in Oregon right now. The majority of the Act’s new requirements go into effect January 1, 2019. Let’s talk about 10 things you should do before the end of the year to make sure you are in compliance with the law.
- If you haven’t already removed past compensation questions from your job applications, do so now. The Act makes it unlawful to ask job applicants (or their prior employers) about their current or past compensation until after a conditional job offer that includes the amount of compensation is made.
- Train your hiring managers not to ask applicants about current or past compensation. The Act requires employers to pay people based on the job they are (or will be) performing, not what they were paid by a previous employer. Employers must not ask applicants about their current compensation. You can, however, ask applicants about their salary and compensation expectations – but be careful to frame the inquiry to expectations, and be aware that a badly phrased question is a potential violation of this particular provision of the statute.
- Rethink salary negotiations – in Oregon, those might be a thing of the past (!). The Act requires employers to pay employees who are doing comparable work the same, unless there is “bona fide factor” to explain the difference such as a seniority system, a merit system, training or experience, or another factor expressly listed in the law. Unless tied to one of those listed factors, market demands or negotiating skills are not bona fide factors justifying a pay disparity.
The 2017 Oregon legislature passed a “secure scheduling” or “fair work week” law that imposes significant requirements on certain categories of large employers. The law, available here, goes into effect July 1, 2018. We previously blogged about the law here.
Are You a Covered Employer?
The law applies to retail, hospitality, and food services employers with 500 or more employees worldwide. …
Continue Reading Oregon’s Secure Scheduling Law Goes into Effect July 1: Are You Ready?
Oregon recently passed amendments to its statewide sick time law, clearing up several areas of uncertainty for employers. The amendments clarify that:
- Employers may cap employees’ annual accrual of sick leave at 40 hours. The pre-amendment version of the sick leave law stated that employees had the right to “earn and use up to 40 hours of paid sick time per year,” but also mandated that employees accrue one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. At the “1 for 30” rate, full-time employees would reach the 40-hour limit well before the end of the year, leading to confusion about whether they were entitled to continue accruing sick time for the remainder of the year (which would, in effect, give them more than 40 hours of annual leave). The amendments, which expressly state that “[e]mployers may limit the number of hours of paid sick time that employees may accrue to 40 hours per year,” make clear that continued accrual beyond 40 hours is not a requirement. Once employees have accrued 40 hours, they are done for the year, even if there are several months left in which they will not accrue any time.
On December 5, 2016, Berger v. National Collegiate Athletic Association brought a major setback for those advocating that “student athletes” deserve to be compensated for their contributions to the multi-billion-dollar industry of college sports.
The plaintiffs were two former “student athletes” at the University of Pennsylvania (“Penn”) who participated on the women’s track and field team. Their lawsuit alleged that “student athletes” were employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and that Penn, along with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) and over 100 other Division I universities, was violating minimum wage laws by not compensating “student athletes.” The district court dismissed their lawsuit, finding that the plaintiffs had no standing to sue any colleges other than Penn and that “student athletes” were not employees under the law.
On appeal, the Seventh Circuit affirmed the decision. Briefly addressing the issue of standing, the court found that the plaintiffs’ connection with the NCAA and other colleges was “far too tenuous to be considered an employment relationship.” Turning to the real issue—whether the plaintiffs are employees of Penn—the plaintiffs argued that the court should use the Second Circuit’s intern test to determine if they were employees. …
Continue Reading Another Setback for Student Athletes … or Is It?
The Department of Labor’s controversial rule that required “white collar” employees to be paid at least $47,476 per year in order to be exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act will NOT go into effect on December 1, 2016 as planned (we wrote about the rule here). A Texas federal judge on Tuesday agreed with 21 states that a nationwide preliminary injunction was necessary to prevent irreparable harm to states and employers if the rule went into effect on December 1.
What does this mean for employers now? …
Continue Reading Breaking News: DOL Salary Rule Blocked By Federal Judge
Employers that promote workplace safety by ensuring workers are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol after they suffer a workplace injury will soon face greater scrutiny from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”). A new OSHA rule that goes into effect August 10, 2016 casts serious doubt on whether employers can lawfully maintain mandatory post-incident drug and alcohol testing.
OSHA Thinks Mandatory Testing Deters Reporting
The new OSHA rule becomes effective August 10, 2016, though compliance deadlines may vary from state to state (check with your employment counsel to confirm). When the rule becomes effective, employers must have a reporting procedure for workplace injuries that is “reasonable and [will] not deter or discourage employees from reporting” workplace injuries. To which you say, “My business already has that.” Perhaps you do, but if that procedure includes mandatory post-incident drug or alcohol testing, OSHA may no longer consider it to be reasonable. Though OSHA claims that “the [new] rule does not prohibit drug testing of employees,” the Agency also states that “mandating automatic post-injury drug testing [is] a form of adverse action that can discourage reporting.” In other words, OSHA has determined that mandatory post-incident drug and alcohol testing may be unlawful because it may deter someone from reporting an injury.
Continue Reading OSHA Promotes Workplace Safety by . . . Limiting Drug and Alcohol Testing?