Current Oregon employment laws ensure that people are paid for the hours that they have worked. These provisions are in line with the Washington Minimum Wage Act, or MWA, which sets out the key forms and procedures required in order for employers to remain compliant with the law. Furthermore, the provisions are in line with the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA. Specifically, there are three categories of pay that are of interest:
- Straight Pay
- Overtime Pay
- Half Time
There is a punitive element to non-compliance. For instance, employers that have unlawfully withheld any pay for a given period of time may be required to double the amount due upon settlement. The key requirement is being able to establish to the tribunal or court of law that the employer willfully and illegally withheld the pay that was due. Under FLSA, this is what is known as the liquidated damages penalty. With the right representation and an experienced attorney, it is possible to get back all the wages earned and any additional penalties that are imposed by the law.
New Protections for Vulnerable Employees
The law is particularly punitive when there are retaliations on the part of the employer in response to an employee exercising their rights under the respective statutes. The findings of the investigation may provide sufficient proof of wrongful termination. This will attract a series of public policy implications including fines, specific performance, and restitution.
One of the key responsibilities and challenges for the claimants in these cases is to keep up with existing, previous and forthcoming laws on fair pay. The law is constantly changed in response to political pressure and the perceived misbehavior of employers who try to get around the provisions of the various statutes. There is also an interplay between local, state, and federal law which can at times appear to be confusing. That is why the services of experienced, specialized, and dedicated lawyers are essential.
One of the areas of contention that will often form the preliminary arguments is the extent to which an employer-employee relationships existed. Workers on temporary renewable contracts may suddenly find themselves being classified as not being employees despite the fact that they may have spent months or even years at the same organization.
It is important that the attorney representing the client identifies and confirms whether the claimant falls under any of these excluded categories:
- Independent Contractors
This will determine whether the provisions of the acts above apply to them. It is also important to note that the designation is a matter of law and factual findings. Just because an employer describes the employer as not being an employer does not mean that the tribunal will accept such a designation. Instead, the tribunal will consider the preponderance of evidence and all the circumstances surrounding the relationship before coming to a conclusion either way. The Employment Department has come up with a comprehensive list of issues, characteristics, and conduct that constitute an employer-employee relationship. These are some of the matters that the attorney will clarify prior to the hearing.
Minimum Wage Provisions
In general terms, employees in the state of Oregon should receive no lower than $9.25 for any full hour of work performed. This requirement started on the 1st of January 2015. The federal government has a minimum hourly wage provision of $7.25 which has been in place as far back as the 24th of July 2009. Overtime must be paid at a rate of 150% of the normal rate. That means that if the normal rate is $10 per hour then the overtime rate must not fall below $15 per hour.
In any seven-day period, hours that exceed 40 must be paid at overtime rates. The law does not make provisions for employers giving employees time off in lieu of overtime. Indeed, this may be one of the “tricks” that are used in order to avoid paying proper compensation. There will be certain occupations and professions that are not covered by the overtime rules. For example, sales staff that work away from the employer’s premises (outside sales staff) are not entitled to same provisions for overtime because they are not always under the supervision and control of the employer as they work. There are also some workers on smaller farms and holdings who will not be subject to the minimum wage requirements. The same exclusions apply to certain student workers and casual babysitters.
Those who are classified as being professional, administrative, and executive employees cannot claim under the minimum wage provisions because it is anticipated that they will be paid on a monthly basis with an average take-home pay that exceeds the minimum wage. Nevertheless, it is important to note that not all salaried employees are automatically exempted from these provisions in Oregon. Get in touch with HKM Employment Attorneys today to find out more about your rights. We are one of the leading practitioners in this field and have assisted many clients who needed to challenge powerful employers.