BOLI Releases Oregon Workplace Fairness Act Model Policy

Stoel Rives - World of Employment

Stoel Rives - World of Employment

The October 1, 2020 deadline for Oregon employers to update their non-discrimination policies is approaching.  In 2019, the Oregon Legislature passed the Workplace Fairness Act (the “Act”), which made significant changes to state law governing discrimination and harassment claims (quick recap here).  Among other provisions, the Act requires employers to adopt a written anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy by October 1, 2020 that:

  • Describes the process to report prohibited conduct, including suspected discrimination, harassment or sexual assault;
  • Identifies an individual, and an alternate, to whom reports can be made;
  • Notifies employees that they have five years from the date of the prohibited conduct to bring a claim;
  • States that an employer may not require or coerce an employee to enter into a non-disclosure or non-disparagement agreement (and defines those terms);
  • Explains that an employee may voluntarily request to enter into an agreement that contains non-disclosure, non-disparagement or no-rehire clauses, but has seven days to revoke the agreement; and
  • Advises employers and employees to document any incidents of alleged prohibited conduct.

This week, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries released a template policy (available here) that addresses each of the above topics.  Employers can, but are not required to, adopt the template policy.  We recommend that employers work with their counsel before October 1 to update their existing policies or modify the template policy to best suit their workplace.

Under the Act, employers must (1) make the final policy available to employees; (2) provide a copy to all new hires; and (3) provide a copy to an employee at the time the employee reports information regarding suspected prohibited conduct.

As for the Act’s other key provisions:

  • The expanded statute of limitations (from one year to five years) on workplace discrimination, harassment or sexual assault already took effect in September 2019.
  • Effective October 1, 2020:
    • Employers may no longer include non-disclosure, non-disparagement and no-rehire provisions in employment or settlement agreements for discrimination, harassment or sexual assault claims, unless an employee requests those terms; and
    • Employers may void severance agreements for managers who violate discrimination or harassment policies.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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