Reading through legislative proposals can sometimes be the best remedy for insomnia. There’s nothing quite like sitting down to a hot cup of tea and cracking open the latest proposal from either side of any aisle to help make you sleep like you’ve never slept before. Unless, of course, you’re an employer in Oregon and the bill you are reading happens to be an Oregon employment-related bill headed to the Governor’s desk. In that case, it’s probably best not to read it right before bed – unless you sleep well with high blood pressure. Every session seems determined to outdo the last session in increasing requirements for employers in Oregon, and the 2019 session is no exception. Here are a couple highlights of passed legislation or what we expect to pass shortly:

Pregnancy Accommodation. Employers of 6 or more who deny reasonable accommodation to employees or job applicants on account of a known limitation related to pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition will now be liable under a whole new category of ‘unlawful employment practice’. Previously, employers not covered under Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) were allowed to require pregnant employees to perform their jobs without reasonable accommodation. This bill is currently awaiting the Governor’s signature.

Expression of Milk. All Oregon employers must now offer an employee a “reasonable rest period” for expression of breast milk “each time the employee has a need to express milk.” Previously, Oregon employers of 25 or more were required to provide an employee with 30 minutes for every 4-hour segment of work, during which she could express. This law goes into effect on the 91st day after sine die.

Anti-Harassment & Discrimination. All Oregon employers may soon be required to comply with a host of additional requirements aimed at combating discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Senate Bill 726, or the “Workplace Fairness Act”, places new requirements and restrictions on employers when entering into settlement agreements and severance agreements, and also lays out specific requirements for an employer’s anti-harassment and discrimination policy. The bill also extends the current one-year statute of limitations on claims to 5 years. It passed out of the House Judiciary Committee yesterday on a “do pass” recommendation, with readings scheduled on the House floor for today and tomorrow.

These are some of the highlights, but they are not all. Stay tuned for more information as I work to keep you informed on what the legislature is doing – many of these future laws have a direct impact on you and your business. Let me know if you have questions or if you want to ensure your policies and practices are compliant with the new laws.