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2019 Oregon Legislative Update

August 28, 2019

By Jessica D. Osborne & Kalia J. Walker

2019 Oregon Legislative Update
After a dramatic and contentious session, the Oregon Legislature adjourned on June 30, 2019, the last possible day the Legislature could remain in session before the Oregon Constitution would have shut it down automatically. Despite the drama, the Legislature managed to pass a number of employment-related bills, many with little to no opposition. Below is a summary of key bills that Oregon employers should keep on their radar.

HB 2005 –Paid Family and Medical Leave Law
HB 2005 provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of paid leave for their own serious health condition (“Medical leave”), for parental leave and other family care (“Family leave”), and for any purpose described in Oregon’s domestic violence law (ORS 659A.272, “Safe leave”); for up to 16 weeks if combined with unpaid Oregon Family Medical Leave (OFLA); and for up to two additional weeks for pregnancy-related medical conditions, including lactation for a combined maximum of 18 weeks. 
By January 1, 2022, Oregon employers must begin remitting premiums that will be used to create a leave fund and submitting quarterly reports.  Eligible employees may begin taking paid leave and receiving benefits in 2023.
You can learn more about this law in our recent BAlert.

HB 2016 – Oregon Public Worker Protection Act
HB 2016 concerns collective bargaining for public employees. Effective January 1, 2020, the law requires public employers to grant union representatives reasonable paid time off to participate in union activities. The law also contains certain provisions to encourage union membership, such as a right to meet with new employees within a month of hire, and permits public employers to deduct union dues from employee wages. HB 2016 is considered the Legislature’s response to the Supreme Court’s landmark case, Janus v. AFSCME.

HB 2341 – Employer Accommodation for Pregnancy-Related Conditions
Effective January 1, 2020, HB 2341 requires employers with 6 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions. Employers are prohibited from taking adverse action against pregnant employees and/or applicants, which includes refusing a reasonable accommodation or retaliating because of an accommodation request. HB 2341 requires that employers post signs notifying employees of their rights under the law and provide written notice to all new employees, pregnant employees within 10 days after the employer is informed of the pregnancy, and to all existing employees by June 29, 2020.

HB 2593 – Breastmilk Expression in the Workplace
This law updates requirements for employers concerning lactation breaks in the workplace. HB 2593 requires that all Oregon employers provide reasonable rest periods to express milk each time the employee needs to express milk. Employees must provide notice when possible, but failure to do so cannot be grounds for discipline. HB 2593 applies to employees with children 18 months old or younger. The law goes into effect on September 29, 2019.

HB 2589 – Sexual Orientation Not a Disability
HB 2589 clarifies that sexual orientation is not considered a physical or mental impairment under Oregon’s disability discrimination laws. The law also removes transphobic language from the previously existing statute. While HB 2589 did not make any substantive changes to the existing law, it represents a positive step forward in establishing the Oregon legislature’s commitment to the LGBTQ+ community.

HB 2992 – Noncompetition Agreements
Effective January 1, 2020, HB 2992 provides that noncompete agreements are only enforceable if the employer provides the employee with a signed, written copy of the agreement within 30 days after termination of employment. The law already required that new employees receive written notice of the need to sign a noncompete agreement at least two weeks before the first day of employment.

HB 3120 – Disqualification for Unemployment Insurance Benefits
HB 3120 amends unemployment insurance statutes adding that an individual may not be disqualified from receiving unemployment insurance benefits in certain situations if the individual, or a member of the individual’s family, is a victim of intimidation, in addition to other pre-existing categories of wrongdoing. The amendment also adds a definition for “intimidation.” HB 3120 is effective for any unemployment insurance claims filed on or after May 24, 2019.

HB 3193 – Wage Claims in Construction Contracting
HB 3193 requires that the Commissioner of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (“BOLI”) inform the Construction Contractors Board (“CCB”) any time it receives a valid wage claim filed against a contractor or a business subject to licensing pursuant to ORS Chapter 701. The Commissioner must also inform the CCB if BOLI makes a final determination and order that wages are owed or if the contractor fails to pay amounts due within 60 days of the order. The CCB may then revoke, suspend, or refuse to issue a license to the business or individual responsible for failing to pay the amounts owed pursuant to the final order. Effective January 1, 2020.

SB 164 – Right to BOLI Complaint Relating to Retirement Savings
SB 164 creates a right for an employee to file a complaint alleging an unlawful practice with the BOLI for an employer’s failure to comply with the requirements of a retirement plan developed under ORS 178.205 (Power and duties of Oregon Retirement Savings Board). If the Commissioner issues a final order finding the employer engaged in an unlawful practice, the Commissioner may impose civil penalties against the employer. The Commissioner must inform the Oregon Retirement Savings Board of any final orders issued. Effective January 1, 2020.

SB 26 – Patient Safety and Health Care Employment
SB 26 provides authority and required action to the director of the Oregon Health Authority (“OHA”), or designee at a facility under the jurisdiction of the OHA, to discharge an employee at a facility under OHA jurisdiction if it has been substantiated that the employee physically or sexually abused a patient or client. Effective date June 13, 2019.

SB 479 – Requiring Workplace Harassment Policies in Public Employment
Effective September 29, 2019, SB 479 adds a requirement for public employers to establish and adopt written policies to prevent workplace harassment both on premises and at off-site work-related events. SB 479 provides guidance on required provisions for the policies, including a requirement to engage in prompt investigation of any report of workplace harassment. SB 479 also provides that it is an unlawful employment practice for a public employer to enter into an agreement with an employee or prospective employee, that has the purpose or effect of preventing said employee from disclosing or discussing workplace harassment in certain situations. SB 479 provides a five year statute of limitations for unlawful employment practices under Oregon’s existing discrimination statutes in addition to the new provisions created by SB 479.

SB 823 – Employee Safety in Health Care Settings
SB 823 requires health care employers to conduct comprehensive security and safety evaluations using state or nationally recognized violence prevention toolkits to identify factors that may cause violence against employees on premises. Evaluations must be conducted by June 30, 2021 and reported to appropriate agency by December 31, 2021. SB 823 also creates an obligation to review workplace assault prevention programs at least every two years. SB 823 makes it an unlawful employment practice to bar or discharge, or otherwise discriminate against an employee or prospective employee, for making a good faith report of an assault occurring on the premises of a health care provider or in the home of a patient. Effective January 1, 2020.

SB 494 – Setting Subminimum Wage and Providing Wage Accelerator
SB 494 requires that employers authorized to employ individuals with disabilities at a subminimum wage pay no less than the amounts established in SB 494, starting with an hourly rate of $9.25 on July 1, 2020 and increasing annually through June 30, 2023. SB 494 provides a wage accelerator to bring subminimum wage to parity with state minimum wage after June 30, 2023. It also removes and redefines language relating to “disability,” “individual with a disability,” and related phrasing to reduce stigmatizing language.

SB 507 – Workers’ Compensation Adding Occupational Disease Category
SB 507 adds work-related acute stress disorder as a covered occupational disease for purposes of workers’ compensation coverage for certain public safety occupations for claims filed on or after September 29, 2019. Acute stress is defined by the DSM-5.

SB 519 – Raising Wage Amounts Excluded from Garnishment
SB 519 raises the amount of wages exempt from garnishment effective January 1, 2020. For a period of one week or less, exempt wages increase from $218 to $254; for any two-week period, exempt wages increase from $435 to $509; for any half-month period,  exempt wages increase from $468 to $545; and for any one-month period, the exempt wages increase from $936 to $1,090.

SB 775 - Criminal Background Checks
SB 775 requires that effective January 1, 2020 any agency of the state government conducting criminal background checks for the purposes of employment to conduct the background check through the Department of State Police. In the event of a later claim of negligence, a criminal background check conducted for an agency of the state by the Department of State Police creates a rebuttable presumption that the agency was not negligent based on a failure to conduct an adequate background check. A criminal records check conducted through the Law Enforcement Data System (“LEDS”) meets the requirements of SB 775.

SB 370 – Federal Inspections of Employment Records
SB 370 requires that, unless prohibited by federal law, employers notify employees within three business days of receiving notice of an inspection from a federal agency that would require disclosure of documents used to verify the identity and employment eligibility of its employees (i.e. an I-9 audit). The law took effect on June 6, 2019 and includes specific notice requirements. SB 370 requires BOLI to create template notices by January 1, 2020.

SB 123 – Pay Equity Requirements for Modified Work
SB 123 makes several changes to the Oregon Equal Pay Act (OEPA), effective January 1, 2020, that will aid employers’ compliance efforts, particularly those employers with unionized workforces.  SB 123 creates a limited safe harbor for employers to differentiate employees’ pay based on collective bargaining agreement (CBA) language.  Additionally, the bill modifies the requirements for the equal pay analysis safe harbor, eliminating some of the uncertainty that had existed, and clarifies that it is acceptable to pay a different level of compensation to an employee performing modified duty work. More information is available in our recent BAlert.

SB 726 – Oregon Workplace Fairness Act
SB 726 applies to all employers and imposes a number of new requirements and restrictions on employers aimed at combatting harassment and discrimination inside and outside of the workplace and attempts to create more transparency and accountability for workplace harassment and discrimination. The law greatly expands the ability for those subject to harassment and discrimination to pursue remedies, including increasing the statute of limitations for filing a claim alleging prohibited conduct with BOLI or a civil action from one year to five years. More information is available in our recent BAlert.
A number of the new laws require rulemaking by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. Bullard Law will continue to monitor developments under these new laws and any implementing rules. Please feel free to contact us with any questions about these laws or any other labor, employment, or benefits issues.

 
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