Effective May 4, 2021, the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OR OSHA”) published its final rule requiring Oregon employers to continue to implement safety measures to protect against the spread of COVID-19.  The final rule is available on OR OSHA’s website.  Here is a summary of the permanent rule’s key provisions:

No Sunset Date

On the same day that Oregon’s statewide “freeze” went into effect, which we blogged about here, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) issued new face covering guidance and new guidance for employers.  That guidance is available here (face coverings) and here (employers).

Face Covering Guidance

Under the new face covering guidance, employees working in cubicles or similar settings must wear face coverings at all times except when eating or drinking, even if the individual workstations are more than six feet apart. While an employee in a “private individual workspace” need not wear a face covering, the new guidance limits “private individual workspace” to a space that is used by one individual at a time and is enclosed on all sides with floor-to-ceiling walls and a closed door (in other words, a traditional, private office). This is a departure from prior guidance, where “private individual workspace” was not so strictly defined.

Employer Guidance

The general employer guidance largely reiterates existing guidance, including that Oregon employers must comply with the new OR-OSHA rules, which we blogged about here. The guidance also includes the following:Continue Reading Oregon Issues New COVID-19 Guidance for Employers, Including Updated Face Covering Requirements

As many of you know, in 2019 the Oregon Legislature passed (and Governor Brown signed) HB 2005, which creates a Paid Family and Medical Leave program for Oregon employees. Our original blog posts about the new law are here and here.

The Oregon Employment Department has launched listening sessions for employers and employees across

On the day that its temporary rule was set to expire, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (“BOLI”) issued a permanent rule to allow employees to continue to avail themselves of protected “sick child leave” under the Oregon Family Leave Act (“OFLA”) to care for a child whose school or childcare provider has been closed in conjunction with a statewide public health emergency, including COVID-19. We previously blogged about BOLI’s temporary rule here.

Based on public comment received during the permanent rule-making process, as well as the fluid nature of safety protocols with respect to childcare providers and school re-openings, the agency determined that its now permanent rule would benefit from additional, immediate clarifications to other OFLA rules.  Accordingly, BOLI simultaneously issued another set of temporary rules (effective September 14, 2020 through March 12, 2021) of which employers should be aware both with respect to implementing the expanded sick child leave and to the extent they want to provide input during the public comment period.

Under the temporary amendments, BOLI broadly defines “childcare provider” to include any “place of care” or person who cares for a child. “Place of care” includes day care facilities, preschools, before and after school care programs, schools, homes, summer camps, summer enrichment programs, and respite care programs.  The physical location does not have to be solely dedicated to such care.  A person who cares for a child includes nannies, au pairs, babysitters, and individuals who regularly provide childcare at no cost, for example, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or neighbors.
Continue Reading BOLI Permanently Expands OFLA for Eligible Working Parents Impacted by COVID-19

We continue to track Governor Brown’s plans for Oregon’s phased reopening, and the impact on Oregon employers.  Select Oregon counties have been approved to move into Phase 2 effective June 5, 2020, with the majority of Oregon counties moving into Phase 2 by June 8.  Multnomah County, Oregon’s most populous county, remains at Baseline, but hopes to enter Phase 1 starting June 12.

Phase 2 of Oregon’s reopening plan generally allows gatherings of up to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors, and encourages individuals to gather outdoors when possible.  The onus is on the operators of gatherings to determine maximum occupancy of each indoor and outdoor area and maintain at least six feet physical distance between parties, and adhere to various cleaning and sanitation requirements, which are available here.  Phase 2 also has sector-specific requirements for indoor & outdoor entertainment facilities, restaurants & bars, swimming pools & sports courts, recreational sports, and venues & events that are set forth in detail below.  Given the many moving parts and that requirements differ by sector, it is prudent for employers to ensure their employees have been provided with proper written policies, protocols, training, and necessary PPE before reopening their doors to the public.
Continue Reading Oregon Issues New COVID-19 Guidance for Employers as Most Counties Enter Phase 2

In the wake of an onslaught of employee complaints about social distancing in the workplace, the Oregon Occupational Health and Safety Administration (“OR-OSHA”) announced that it would begin workplace inspections in order to enforce the social distancing requirements imposed by Governor Brown’s March 23 Executive Order.  Our blog post describing the Executive Order is here, a link to a media article about OR-OSHA’s announcement is here, and a link to OR-OSHA resources regarding workplace safety during the COVID 19 pandemic is here.

Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind if OR-OSHA conducts an inspection at your workplace:

  • OR-OSHA has the legal authority to inspect workplaces for compliance with safety standards, with or without notice. This includes the right to enter the workplace “during working hours or at other reasonable times, within reasonable limits, and in a reasonable manner.”  What is “reasonable” will depend on the circumstances, but in general it means that investigators may access your facility during regular business hours and may inspect portions of the facility as much as necessary to determine whether sound safety practices are being followed.
  • The OR-OSHA investigator will generally begin the inspection by holding a short conference with the employer’s representative. This is why it is important now to plan ahead and designate your representative(s), who may or may not be the same individual(s) who are enforcing social distancing compliance with Governor Brown’s Executive Order, and prepare them for how to cooperate with OR-OSHA.  During the conference the investigator will present his/her credentials and explain the purpose and scope of the visit, request any records he/she intends to review, determine whether any personal protective equipment is necessary while touring the facility, and inform the employer of OR-OSHA’s right to speak to employees and take photographs or conduct sampling.
  • The employer is entitled to have a representative accompany the investigator during the inspection. Inspectors have the right to question employees confidentially without management representatives present.
  • At the conclusion of the inspection, the investigator will conduct a closing conference to discuss his/her findings and advise the employer of any violations and safety hazards that have been identified. The investigator will also discuss OR-OSHA’s remediation and enforcement plan, including items like timelines for correcting any hazards, possible penalties, and the employer’s appeal rights.

Continue Reading OR-OSHA Announces Workplace Social Distancing Investigations

On Tuesday, August 20, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a case entitled Murray v. Mayo Clinic, joined four other Circuit Courts of Appeal in holding that a “but for” causation standard applies in ADA discrimination claims.  This standard is considered to make it more difficult for employees to prove discrimination claims than

SB 123, just passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Brown, makes several amendments to Oregon’s pay equity law. Most notable are the revisions to the limited affirmative defense available to employers in litigation. The law previously provided employers a “safe harbor” from emotional distress and punitive damages if a lawsuit is filed,

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Continue Reading Pay Equity: 10 Things for Oregon Employers to Do Before the End of the Year