Oregon News & Analysis

  • Oregon Legislature passes aggressive equal pay law

    Oregon has long prohibited discrimination in pay and other forms of compensation. State law specifically bars discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, or age in "compensation or in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment." Nevertheless, the Oregon Legislature has passed a new equal pay law, House Bill (HB) 2005, which applies to discrimination in all forms of compensation against the same groups currently covered under Oregon antidiscrimination law in addition to veterans. The law significantly expands the concept of equal pay and places new limits on information employers may request or use during the hiring process.

  • 9th Circuit broadly interprets whistleblower protections

    Does an employee become a "whistleblower" merely by reporting possible securities law violations to his employer, or does he have to take the concern to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)? The answer to that question matters—because the antiretaliation provisions of the federal Dodd-Frank Act (DFA) extend only to employees who have engaged in whistleblowing as defined in the statute. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to all Oregon employers) recently decided that the DFA protects not only workers who go to the SEC but also those who register their concerns internally.

  • 9th Circuit green-lights Oregon cable installers' overtime claims

    Overtime pay under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)—and many state laws—is calculated at time and a half a worker's regular hourly rate. But if the formula used to calculate the regular rate undervalues a component of worker pay when overtime is worked, the employer may be in violation. That's the lesson from a recent decision of the 9th Circuit.

  • Civility training can help prevent workplace harassment

    In the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) proposed guidance on harassment, the commission suggests "civility training" and "bystander intervention training" as proactive measures employers can take to prevent workplace harassment.

  • Landmark ruling boosts protection against sexual orientation discrimination

    Federal law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of their sexual orientation, a federal appeals court recently ruled for the first time. With this landmark ruling, the 7th Circuit upended three decades of precedent and likely set the issue up for review by the U.S. Supreme Court. The decision applies only in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, but its effect reaches far beyond those three states. Some observers suggest the ruling, when combined with the position of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on the issue, means employers everywhere should ensure they don't discriminate based on sexual orientation.

  • Don the whistleblower's hat: a strategy for avoiding retaliation claims

    With retaliation claims again topping the list of charges filed most frequently with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and whistleblower claims on the rise, employers can learn a great deal by better understanding the psychology of a whistleblower, says attorney Brad Cave of Holland & Hart LLP in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and editor of Wyoming Employment Law Letter. If employers can "put on the whistleblower's hat," he says, they may be able to reduce the risk of a retaliation suit significantly.

  • Agency Action

    USCIS announces efforts against H-1B abuse. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in April 2017 announced stepped-up measures to fight H-1B visa fraud and abuse. Also, on April 7, the agency announced it had reached the congressionally mandated 65,000 H-1B visa cap for fiscal year 2018. It also announced it had received a sufficient number of H-1B petitions to meet the 20,000-visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, also known as the master's cap. The antifraud measures will target cases in which USCIS can't validate the employer's basic business information through commercially available data, H-1B-dependent employers, and employers petitioning for H-1B workers who work off-site at another organization's location. The agency said targeted site visits will allow it to focus resources where fraud and abuse of the H-1B program may be more likely to occur.

  • Overtime rules for manufacturing facilities in Oregon change again

    Recently, we reported that the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) had unilaterally changed its interpretation of rules requiring daily and weekly overtime pay for employees at mills, factories, and manufacturing establishments (see "BOLI pulls a switcheroo on overtime calculations" on pg. 1 of our February 2017 issue). Now, an Oregon circuit court has rejected the agency's new interpretation.

  • Attorney's comment to reporter not protected speech under First Amendment

    Unlike with private-sector employees, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution sometimes protects public-sector workers from retaliation for exercising their free-speech rights. But not all public employee statements are constitutionally protected, as illustrated by a recent decision of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to all Oregon employers).

  • Oregon city councillor's letter disparaging local labor union could be ULP

    The Oregon Supreme Court, reversing the Oregon Court of Appeals, has held 4-3 that a city councillor may be a "public employer representative" within the meaning of Oregon's Public Employee Collective Bargaining Act (PECBA). The ruling opens the door for an Oregon city to be found liable for an unfair labor practice (ULP) based on a city councillor's letter to the local newspaper criticizing unions and encouraging union members to decertify.