The Oregon legislature has passed several new employment measures in 2013, most of which will take effect on January 1, 2014. Many of the new laws provide additional rights and protections for Oregon employees, which demonstrates a positive pro-employee trend among the legislators. Employees throughout the state should familiarize themselves with the new laws to ensure they receive the new benefits to which the new laws entitle them. Some of the laws require employers to adjust handbooks and policies, and employers should begin making changes as soon as possible to be prepared when the changes take effect. Below are summaries of some of the new Oregon employment laws.
Restrictions on Social Media Access: As of next year, employers may not request access to an employee’s social media site. The law prohibits employers from requesting passwords, from compelling an employee to add a supervisor or coworker as an online contact or “friend,” and even from requesting that an employee merely show an employer a social media profile page. The law covers sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, photo-sharing sites, personal email, personal web pages, and personal blogs. Employers will likely have to adapt existing social media policies to reflect the new law.
Adapting the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA)to include Bereavement Leave: Eligible employees will be allowed two weeks leave to deal with the death of a family member, whether it is to attend a funeral, making necessary arrangements for the household, or simply to grieve. Though the leave must be taken within 60 days of learning of the death, the timely notice caveat of other types of OFLA leave will not apply in bereavement cases.
Expansion of Domestic Violence, Harassment, Sexual Assault and Stalking Leave laws: Though current laws allow victims of the above acts reasonable leave to seek treatment, assistance from law enforcement, or to relocate, current laws require that an employee have worked on average 25 hours or more per week for at least 180 days to be eligible for the leave. The expanded law eliminates that requirement so all employees are eligible from the first day of employment.
Protections for Unpaid Interns Against Discrimination and Retaliation: Such protections were previously reserved for paid employees, but now unpaid interns will be protected from sexual harassment, discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status or age, and retaliation for opposition of discrimination or whistle-blowing.
Providing a Veteran’s Day Holiday for Veterans: Under certain circumstances and with proper notice, employers must provide eligible veterans with the holiday, and if there are scheduling conflicts on that particular day, the employer must provide them with another day off. Unlike the other laws that go into effect on January 1, 2014, this law took effect immediately and will be in place for the 2013 holiday.
It has been a busy month for Oregon legislators when it comes to employment laws. If you have any questions about the new lows or your rights as an Oregon employee, do not hesitate to contact our office today.