Oregon News & Analysis

  • 9th Circuit says claims adjusters may pursue overtime class action

    Many viewed the U.S. Supreme Court's 2011 decision in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes as a death knell for employee class actions. But as we have since learned, courts continue to approve class action treatment in certain circumstances. One example is a recent ruling of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to all Oregon employers) permitting Allstate claims adjusters to pursue overtime claims under California law.

  • Oregon court allows workers' comp benefits for state-funded home healthcare worker

    The Oregon Court of Appeals recently concluded that a state-funded home healthcare worker could receive workers' compensation benefits for an injury that occurred while performing work that was not funded by the state.

  • Federal appeals courts have conflicting views on ACA exchange subsidies

    Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law in 2010, there have been a variety of judicial challenges to it, and it appears the court system isn't finished with the law yet. In fact, the ACA has seen a lot of court action this year.

  • Certain employers may have posting requirements under antitrafficking laws

    Amid efforts to counter human trafficking and support its victims, state and federal legislators have introduced and passed a variety of laws addressing human exploitation and trafficking. As a result, employers in some businesses—primarily those involving transportation, lodging, the sale and consumption of alcohol, and adult- oriented entertainment—may have additional workplace notice and posting requirements.

  • 'Third world' comment doesn't make national origin discrimination claim

    An Egyptian dentist enrolled in a graduate program in the United States was offended when a professor described her work on a patient as "third world dentistry." When the dentist failed to complete the program, she sued, claiming national origin discrimination. The 9th Circuit recently reviewed the case and concluded that the comment—however insensitive—didn't amount to a violation.

  • Minimum wages in the Northwest to increase

    Oregon and Washington will increase their minimum wage rates on January 1, 2015. Oregon and Washington tie their minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which has resulted in annual increases in both states. That trend will continue next year.

    Oregon’s minimum wage will increase by 15 cents to $9.25 per hour because of a 1.6 percent increase in the CPI-U, the index for urban consumers. In Washington, the minimum wage will increase by 15 cents to $9.47 per hour based on a 1.59 percent rise in the CPI-W, the index for urban wage earners and clerical workers. Seattle has gone even further and approved a gradual hike to a $15 per hour minimum wage. The city will require businesses with more than 500 employees nationwide to pay $15 per hour within three years.

    Smaller employers will be required to pay $15 per hour within seven years. With those increases, Washington will retain the honor of having the highest state minimum wage in the country, and Seattle now has the highest citywide minimum wage. Oregon is in second place. However, California is creeping up on both states. In 2013, California passed a law that will phase in a $10 minimum wage by January 2016. San Francisco is chasing Seattle with legislation that would increase the city’s minimum wage to $15.

    Oregon employers should pay careful attention to next year’s legislative session. A statewide minimum wage increase likely will be proposed. If that does not happen, don’t be surprised if Portland follows Seattle’s lead with a citywide minimum wage increase.

    Joanna Perini can be reached at jperiniabbott@perkinscoie.com.

  • Workplace Trends

    Analysis shows slowing of trend away from pension plans. An analysis from professional services company Towers Watson shows that fewer U.S. companies last year moved from defined benefit (DB) plans to offering only a defined contribution (DC) plan to new salaried employees than in any other year over the past decade. The analysis also found that the insurance and utilities sectors are bucking the trend from DB to DC plans. More than half the companies in those sectors still offer DB and DC retirement plans to new salaried employees. The analysis found that only 118 Fortune 500 companies (24 percent) offered any type of DB plan to new hires at the end of 2013, down from 299 companies (60 percent) 15 years ago. While the number of Fortune 500 companies with open DB plans reached a record low in 2013, the number of companies (five) that moved away from DB plans last year is the lowest number that shifted to DC plans in more than 10 years.

  • Agency Action

    DOL awards $10.2 million to help states fight misclassification. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has awarded $10,225,183 to 19 states to implement or improve worker misclassification detection and enforcement initiatives in unemployment insurance programs. The funds will be used to increase the ability of state unemployment insurance programs to identify instances in which employers improperly classify employees as independent contractors or fail to report the wages paid to workers at all. This is the first year the DOL has awarded grants dedicated to this effort. The states receiving grants are California, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

  • Union Activity

    Right to Work Foundation fights UAW drive in Alabama. The National Right to Work Foundation has issued a special legal notice on the United Auto Workers' (UAW) effort to unionize Mercedes- Benz workers in Vance, Alabama. The group is telling workers they don't need to join the UAW to discuss wages and working conditions with their employer. The notice also informs workers about what they can do if they oppose the union or change their minds about supporting it. In addition, the notice addresses workers' rights during a card-check unionization campaign.

  • Reading the 'tea' leaves

    On November 4, Oregon voters will have the chance to vote on Initiative 91, which would legalize recreational marijuana use in Oregon. While the overall effects of recreational marijuana legalization will take time to understand, Oregon employers should have at least a good guess of its effect on the workplace.