Ryan Kunkel

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Ryan Kunkel, an associate in Stoel Rives’ Labor & Employment group, helps employers resolve employment-related disputes in litigation and counsels clients to help prevent those disputes in the first place. His practice also includes helping management resolve complex labor disputes, including organizing drives, NLRB proceedings, and work stoppages.

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EUA Status Does Not Prohibit Employers from Requiring the COVID Vaccine; Seven Factors for Employers to Consider When Considering a Mandatory Vaccination Policy

While many employers initially were hesitant to institute mandatory COVID vaccinations, the recent surge driven by the Delta variant and announcements from large organizations—including the U.S. military, United Airlines, and major health care systems across the country—have caused many employers to revisit mandatory vaccination policies. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and U.S. Department of Justice … Continue Reading

Oregon OSHA Announces Plans to Sunset Portions of Its COVID-19 Safety Rules Once Vaccination Target Is Reached

Late last week, Governor Kate Brown announced that the State of Oregon would largely remove its mask and social-distancing requirements once 70 percent of adult Oregonians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.  Following that announcement, the Oregon Occupational Health and Safety Administration (“OR-OSHA”) published its plans to repeal at least some … Continue Reading

Minimum Wage Increase and Updated Workplace Posters

It’s that time of year to prepare for minimum wage increases and update workplace posters.  Beginning July 1, minimum wage rates throughout Oregon increase, to $14.00 for Portland Metro, $12.00 for Nonurban Counties, and $12.75 as Standard. (See here for descriptions of the areas in each category.)  BOLI’s 2021-2022 Commonly Required Postings in Oregon Poster, … Continue Reading

U.S. Department of Labor Repeals Trump-Era Rule Favoring Independent Contractor Status, as Expected

As expected, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has repealed the Trump-era rule regarding classification of independent contractors.  As we discussed here, the Trump-era rule codified the “economic realities test” for use when analyzing whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Labor advocates criticized the … Continue Reading

DOL Announces Plans To Rescind FLSA Joint Employment Rule, Withdraw FLSA Independent Contractor Rule

Late last week, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) announced that it plans to rescind the Trump DOL rule that tightened the standards by which two or more companies could be deemed a joint employer for purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).  The same day, the DOL announced its plans to withdraw the … Continue Reading

DOL Delays Roll-Out of New Independent Contractor Rule

Another day, another Trump-era Department of Labor (“DOL”) rule that’s been put on the shelf for 60 days.  Last week, we blogged about the Biden DOL’s decision to delay the rollout of the tip rules that the Trump DOL adopted in the final weeks of its administration from March 1, 2021 until at least April … Continue Reading

DOL Publishes Final Independent Contractor Rule to Take Effect in March

The U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) published a final rule addressing independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”).  Independent contractor status is a critical question under the FLSA because eligible employees are entitled to the law’s protections (for example, minimum wage and overtime for non-exempt employees) but independent contractors are not.  Incorrectly … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Rules That Title VII Protects LGBT Employees

Today the United States Supreme Court answered the question of whether Title VII, the federal law that prohibits workplace discrimination “on the basis of sex,” protects LGBT employees with a resounding “Yes.”  In a 6-3 decision, the Court held that: “The answer is clear. An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender … Continue Reading

Reopening Oregon: Governor Brown Releases Details and Guidance for Businesses

On Thursday, May 7, 2020 – six weeks after Oregon Governor Brown announced a statewide “Stay Home” order – Governor Brown released details for Reopening Oregon over the coming weeks and months.  The Governor’s plan follows federal guidance and permits certain businesses to reopen in phases after specific public health prerequisites are met. In the … Continue Reading

Ten Things to Consider In Getting Back to Work

As restrictions are easing, employers are planning for and starting to bring people back to work.  In these extraordinary times, everyone recognizes that things will not be business as usual.  Here is our “Top 10” checklist of things to consider as we move toward the “new normal.” Reluctant Returners. Many employees are eager to return … Continue Reading

Oregon’s Plan for Reopening

Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced this week that Oregon is developing a multifaceted, step-by-step plan for reopening businesses and relaxing its “stay at home” measures.  In accordance with federal guidance, Oregon’s plan has three phases, with gating criteria and core preparedness requirements that must be met before moving to the next phase. Between each phase, … Continue Reading

Senate Authorizes Additional Relief for Small Businesses Under the Paycheck Protection Program

Most employers are aware of the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) created by the CARES Act that could provide assistance with meeting payroll, but the program quickly ran out of money, leaving many without funding.  To address that and other issues, the Senate passed the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, see here, to … Continue Reading

UPDATE: Congress Passes Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act

*a prior version of this post indicated the House vote was still pending. The House passed this legislation on March 27, 2020.  Like you, we are closely monitoring the rapid developments caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest is Congress passing the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (or “CARES” Act). We focus below … Continue Reading

U.S. Department of Labor Updates Guidance on Families First Coronavirus Relief Act

The U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) has updated its guidance on the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (“FFCRA”), which was signed into law on March 18, 2020.  (A summary of the law is here.)  Regulations are coming in April.  In the meantime, the DOL’s current resources available are: A tip sheet for employees A tip … Continue Reading

Congress Passes Legislation to Provide Paid Leave to Employees During COVID-19 Emergency

On March 18, 2020, the Senate passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, (the “Act”), which was passed by the House last week.  President Trump swiftly signed the legislation, which is effective in 15 days.  All public employers and private employers with under 500 employees are covered by the Act, which provides for emergency paid … Continue Reading

EEOC Updates Guidance on ADA and the Rehabilitation Act In Light of COVID-19

As employers continue to react to and prepare for workplace challenges due to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak around the country, the EEOC has updated some of its guidance on the Americans With Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Rehabilitation Act.  The EEOC addresses situations such as whether employer can require that employees showing symptoms … Continue Reading

House of Representatives Takes Steps to Provide Paid Leave to Employees Absent due to COVID-19; Senate Must Still Act

We are continuing to monitor developing issues facing employers due to the outbreak of COVID-19.  The latest is from Congress. On March 13, the US House of Representatives passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, (the “Act”) to  provide for emergency paid sick and family and medical leave for some employees around the country.  Public … Continue Reading

COVID-19 – Information Updates

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 18; … Continue Reading

Tips For Employers to Mitigate Issues Related to COVID-19 Outbreak

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 … Continue Reading

A Return to Common Sense in Federal Labor Law

Through a series of decisions issued in late 2019, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”) has signaled a return to common sense in its approach to the rules governing labor relations.  Here are a few of the Board’s decisions that are of interest to employers. Employers May Require Employees to Maintain Confidentiality in … Continue Reading

Goodbye 2019, Hello 2020

As 2019 comes to an end, employers should know about important new obligations that will ring in their new year.  Our Labor & Employment experts offer some guidance on critical developments in Oregon, Washington, California, and Idaho that employers should be prepared for in 2020. Oregon The statute of limitations for discrimination and harassment claims … Continue Reading

Department of Labor Announces Expanded Overtime Protection for over 1 Million Workers Beginning January 1, 2020

The U.S. Department of Labor announced today that an estimated 1.3 million workers will soon be eligible to receive overtime or be in line for a raise. Effective January 1, 2020, the minimum salary threshold for the “white-collar” exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act will be $684 per week or $35,568 per year, an increase from … Continue Reading

Oregon Enacts Paid Family Leave

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 … Continue Reading
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