Greetings from smoky (but still beautiful) Independence, Oregon. It’s been a quick minute since I touched base with you – here are four points that are on my mind for you as we head into October. Let me know if you have questions, concerns, or want more information on a certain topic.

  • The remaining portions of the Oregon Workplace Fairness Act (OWFA) go into effect on October 1, 2020:
    • All employers must communicate procedures to reduce and prevent certain unlawful discrimination and sexual assault in a written policy. Because OWFA requires certain elements to be present in the policy, it might be that your already-existing policy will not comply with the new law. Employers should review their policies and revise as necessary. BOLI has offered a template policy here.
    • Employers must make this policy available to all current employees, provide a copy of the policy to all new hires, and provide a copy to any employee reporting information regarding the relevant prohibited conduct at the time of reporting.
    • Employers are no longer allowed to include certain provisions in employment or settlement agreements unless by employee request.
    • Contact me if you would like a new policy, a revision of your existing policy, or a review of your employment and settlement agreements to ensure compliance with OWFA.
  • Many of us are dealing with the effects of wildfire smoke not just on us and our families, but also our employees. Keep a couple things in mind as you field requests from your employees:
    • If an employee is sick as a result of poor air quality, this qualifies as sick time under the Oregon Sick Time law. Even if you are not required to provide paid sick time, accrued time is still protected time.
    • If an employee indicates that they have a disability (even if they are triggered by a temporary event like wildfire smoke), employers still have an obligation to provide reasonable accommodations within certain limits. As always, DOCUMENT.
    • The Bureau of Labor and Industries has recently published a resource page for the wildfires we are experiencing across our state. You can check it out here.
  • Did you know that a new procedure for expulsion of members of a nonprofit became part of the law in 2020? ORS 65.167 now requires a nonprofit organization to give notice to the member at least 15 days in advance of expulsion or suspension (with stated reason in the notice), provide an opportunity for the member to be heard by persons authorized to withdraw the proposed expulsion or suspension at least 5 days prior to expulsion or suspension, and provides one year for the expelled/suspended member to challenge the action.
  • A “release and severance” agreement can be a useful tool if employed properly. As recent regulations further limit what can and can’t be utilized in such agreements, it is important to confer with an attorney to make sure the agreement you are offering is defensible.

It’s an honor to partner with you as we collectively navigate these times. If you have questions on how best to develop your defense-minded strategy, including compliance with the most recent legal obligations, let me know.

~ Abby