Oregon News & Analysis

  • 9th Circuit OK's tip-pooling rules for certain Oregon employers

    In restaurants and other establishments where employees are customarily tipped for service, employers are permitted by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to take a "tip credit" against the minimum wage otherwise owed to those employees. That means employers may pay less than the federal minimum wage to employees who receive tips that bring their total compensation above the minimum. (Note that some states, including Oregon, do not permit a tip credit against state wage obligations.)

  • No whistleblower claim for manager fired for misconduct

    Safety is so important in the nuclear industry that the federal Energy Reorganization Act (ERA) provides protection for whistleblowers who speak up about safety concerns that are concealed or overlooked by their employer. But not every employee who comments on such issues is a whistleblower, as demonstrated by a recent ruling of the 9th Circuit.

  • Where would I hide? Preventing workplace violence and employee anxiety

    Sadly, workplace shootings have become an all-too-frequent occurrence, with the most recent being a shooting at a Kansas factory on February 25, 2016. The very real threat of violence in the workplace leads many employees to look at their surroundings and wonder—What would I do? Where would I hide?

  • Tacoma's new minimum wage and paid leave laws now in effect

    As of February 1, employers with employees in Tacoma have two new legal requirements. First, employers must pay employees in Tacoma at least $10.35 per hour instead of Washington's minimum wage of $9.47 per hour. Second, employers must provide employees at least 24 hours of paid leave per year. The main highlights of the ordinances are explained in this article.

  • Adopting policies to prevent gender identity discrimination—first steps for employers

    In many large cities and several states, employers are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of gender identity. The New York City Commission on Human Rights recently issued new gender identity enforcement guidance that contains definitions of relevant terms along with examples of employer actions that violate the city's law.

  • Agency Action

    AFL-CIO commits to a Raising Wages agenda. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued a statement in February 2016 ahead of the labor organizations winter meeting saying it would not make a presidential endorsement at the meeting but is committed to a Raising Wages agenda. The statement said the organization has an endorsement process in place, but most importantly, we will further elevate the Raising Wages agenda and hold all politicians accountable to it. The statement said the AFL-CIO would continue to encourage affiliated unions to pursue their own deliberations with their members and come to their own endorsement decisions, if any, through open and rigorous debate.

  • Workplace Trends

    Survey finds employers not satisfied with pay-for-performance programs. A new survey finds that a large number of North American employers say their pay-for-performance programs arent doing what they are designed to dodrive and reward individual performance. The survey for consulting firm Willis Towers Watson found that just 20% of North American companies find merit pay to be effective at driving higher levels of individual performance. Just 32% say their merit pay program is effective at differentiating pay based on individual performance. In reporting the survey, Willis Towers Watson said that merit pay is too often a standard adjustment disguised as a pay-for-performance program.

  • Agency Action

    DOL announces 2017 department budget. U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez in February 2016 released the Obama administrations 2017 U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) budget, which includes $12.8 billion in discretionary funding, along with new, dedicated mandatory funds. Job creation and training are among the programs emphasized in the budget. Among the budgets other highlights are more than $2 billion for a Paid-Leave Partnership Initiative to assist up to five states in launching paid leave programs, a cost-neutral suite of reforms to the unemployment insurance program, $595 million for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), $397 million for the Mine Safety and Health Administration, and $277 million for the DOLs Wage and Hour Division (WHD). In particular, the DOL said, the budget supports WHD efforts to thwart illegal misclassification of employees as independent contractors.

  • Feeling the 'Bern': Wage issues are hot in the Oregon Legislature

    It's not just Bernie Sanders talking about wage issues these days. The Oregon Legislature has taken up two important wage issues this session: minimum wage and wage enforcement. Although a three-tiered minimum wage increase will go into effect starting this year, the wage enforcement bill was pretty well gutted before it passed. The legislature is also considering whistleblower issues and increasing the wrongful death damages cap.

  • Portland ups the ante with ban-the-box ordinance

    On July 1, 2016, a new Portland ordinance will significantly limit employers' ability to inquire about applicants' criminal history. The ordinance goes far beyond Oregon's statewide ban-the-box law.