Oregon Employers: Prepare for Policy Change by Oct. 1, 2020
In response to the “Me Too” movement, the 2019 Oregon legislature enacted the Oregon Workplace Fairness Act (OWFA), changing employment law for Oregon employers in several significant ways.
Under the OWFA, effective October 1, 2020, all Oregon employers are required to adopt a written policy establishing procedures to reduce and prevent specific types of unlawful discrimination and sexual assault. Although most employers have had harassment and discrimination policies in place for many years, the OWFA requires certain minimum standards and also mandates that employers provide very specific information to their employees within the policy. Thus, all Oregon employers should review and revise their existing discrimination and harassment policies no later than October 1, 2020.
The minimum requirements for the written policy are as follows:
- Employers must provide a process for employees to report prohibited conduct.
- Employers must identify the individual and an alternate to whom complaints should be made.
- Employers must advise employees that they have a 5-year statute of limitations’ within which to bring legal claims of discrimination or harassment.
- Employers must advise employees that an employer may not coerce or require an employee to enter into a nondisparagement or nondisclosure agreement, including a description of those terms.
- Employers must advise employees claiming to be aggrieved by unlawful discrimination or sexual assault that they may voluntarily request to enter into severance or separation agreements which contain non-disclosure or non-disparagement or no-rehire provisions, but only if they are also given 7 days to revoke the agreement after signing.
- Employers must include a written statement that advises both employers and employees to document any incidents involving unlawful discrimination and sexual assault.
The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) has created a model policy employers may use to comply with the new requirements. A link to BOLI’s model policy and additional information about the OWFA can be found here. Employers may also want to consider revising the policies they currently have in place instead of simply replacing their current policy with the BOLI model policy. The new policy must be made available to existing employees, provided to new employees at the time of hire, and given to an employee at the time that the employee discloses information regarding prohibited discrimination or harassment.
For more information please contact a member of Dunn Carney’s Employment Law Team.