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Legislature: 7 employment law bills to watch

April 26, 2011

AOI Employment Law Watch List
By J.L. Wilson
Associated Oregon Industries
Oregon’s largest business advocate

The deadline for legislation to move out of its original committee is this week. All legislation that is not passed out of its original committee this week is considered dead. For groups like AOI, it’s one of the busiest weeks in the session. It’s when compromises are reached. Deals are cut. Amendments to legislation fly around the Capitol in hopes that one of them hits the mark, allowing a bill to pass. In other words, it’s a week that requires vigilance.

These are the employment-related issues that AOI is actively working this week:

SB 2 requires private sector employers to give veterans the day off on Veterans Day. If an employer cannot afford to give all veterans the day off, the employer is required to deny time off to the minimum number of employees who are veterans to maintain “minimum operational capacity.” An employer must give a veteran an alternate day off if Veterans Day is not a possibility.

SB 506 adds an additional family leave requirement for two weeks of family leave in a calendar year for bereavement if there is a death in the family. SB 506 passed the Senate on Tuesday, April 19; however, it faces an unlikely future in the House. See AOI’s letter on SB 506.

SB 610 creates new regulations on Oregon’s staffing firms, including mandating what temporary staffing firms must pay their temporary workers. The bill implements a prohibition against any wage and benefit differentials based on experience, skill level, training, education or any other market-based factor. This legislation, unique to Oregon, would threaten the viability of staffing agencies in Oregon.

SB 611 expands the definition of “employer” to encompass “any other person acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee.” But it only does so in Oregon’s wage and hour statutes. Why? The intent appears to be to expand the number of people who are liable under Oregon’s wage claim statutes. See AOI’s letter on SB 611.

SB 624 allows anyone with an alleged wage claim to file a lien against their employer’s property for up to $3,000. No substantiation is necessary. Under the bill, the mere allegation of a wage claim triggers the lien process with no requirement for judicial finding or process for an employer to challenge a false claim. See AOI’s letter on SB 624.

HB 2243 will give the Attorney General the right to sue employers for employment discrimination claims on behalf of veterans. AOI opposes this legislation. BOLI already performs this function. There is no need to open the door to give the Attorney General additional powers to pursue employment claims.

HB 3482 has been amended at AOI’s request to include “harassment” to the list of crimes for which an employer must grant certain leave rights and accommodation requests. The original bill, which AOI opposed, required leave rights and accommodation rights for employees subject to “sexual harassment.” AOI made a strong case to delete this language. Currently, employers must grant these rights to victims of stalking, domestic abuse and sexual assault. See AOI’s letter on HB 3482.

  
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