Oregon News & Analysis

  • Oregon employers must prepare now for DOL's overtime changes

    2016 is the year of the double whammy for Oregon employers. First, Oregon has begun the process of rapidly increasing its minimum wage over the next few years. Second, on May 18, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published a rule revising the required minimum salary for the white-collar overtime exemptions. Effective December 1, 2016, the minimum salary level for the white-collar exemptions under federal law will more than double. Oregon employers need to prepare now to respond.

  • 9th Circuit gives sex discrimination claimant second bite at apple

    When a trial court dismisses a lawsuit "with prejudice," that means the claimant is barred from filing another action based on the same underlying situation. The second action would be blocked by the legal principle of "res judicata," signifying that the issues have already been adjudicated. But a recent decision of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to all Nevada employers) indicates that certain circumstances may permit a claimant a second try.

  • 9th Circuit revives postal worker's ADA claim against union

    An unhappy employee thought her union wasn't doing enough to pursue her claims against the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). After she was fired, she filed two separate lawsuits against the union. The 9th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the first lawsuit, but in a more recent decision, it breathed new life into her claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

  • New DOL exemption rules: What if you need to reclassify employees?

    Employees must meet both the duties test and the salary-basis test to qualify for an exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The duties test, which looks at what the employee actually does in her job, determines whether she fits into one of the three categories of the white-collar exemption: executive, administrative, or professional. Under the new overtime rules, the salary threshold has been raised from $23,600 to $47,476, effective December 1, 2016, with automatic increases every three years. In response, employers will need to consider whether their exempt employees' wages will meet the new requirements or whether they should reclassify certain jobs to meet the requirements.

  • From LBJ to LGBT: the evolution of Title VII

    In the landmark sexual harassment case Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist wrote about Title VII, "The prohibition against discrimination based on sex was added to Title VII at the last minute . . . and we are left with little legislative history to guide us in interpreting the Act's prohibition against discrimination based on 'sex.'" Since then, the interpretation of Title VII's prohibition of discrimination based on sex has expanded far past barring the exclusion of women. Here's a look at that evolution and the possible next expansion of Title VII.

  • Workplace Trends

    Research shows culture gap between employers, employees. A new study claims that employees and employers have differing views on company culture, with employees viewing culture more negatively than management. The study from leadership training company VitalSmarts shows that leaders say they want innovation, initiative, candor, and teamwork, but employees feel management instead wants obedience, predictability, deference to authority, and competition with peers. The study, which surveyed more than 1,200 employees, managers, and executives, found that the more senior a person is in the organization, the more positive that persons perception of company culture. The researchers said that when employees believed that what was really valued was obedience, predictability, deference to authority, and competition with peers, they were 32% less likely to be engaged, motivated, and committed to their organization.

  • Union Activity

    Court orders union pension fund to restore $200,000 to plan. A settlement agreement issued in July 2016 by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the International Association of Machinists National Pension Fund to repay $200,000 to the fund and pay $40,000 in civil money penalties. An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labors (DOL) Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) found that officials of the National Pension Fund violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and breached fiduciary duties by failing to select fund service providers loyally and prudently, regularly ignoring required procedures included in the funds governing plan documents, creating conflicts of interest for the fund, unlawfully soliciting and accepting gratuities from plan service providers, and spending and permitting others to spend fund assets lavishly on unnecessary trips, parties, and extravagant food, wine, and accommodations.

  • Laundry every day means employer has to pay

    The U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon recently issued an opinion that contains important reminders about the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Oregon's wage and hour law: You must do everything possible to account for, and compensate nonexempt employees for, all time worked—even if it seems minimal, such as time spent laundering their own uniforms or purchasing supplies for work. A written policy banning workers from being on the clock outside their scheduled hours isn't enough to save you from FLSA and state-law wage claims.

  • 9th Circuit nixes former employee's contract, ERISA claims

    The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to all Oregon employers) recently sounded the death knell on a retiree's employment contract claims for the simple reason that he had waited too long to pursue them. Further, his attempt to show an Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) violation was groundless.

  • 9th Circuit says city must include benefits in calculating overtime

    Most employers know that the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires them to pay workers at least one and a half times their regular rate for overtime hours. But what is the "regular rate"? It's more than just base pay. The 9th Circuit recently ruled that a California city's payments under its flexible benefits plan had to be added in to calculate police officers' regular rate for overtime pay purposes.