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Pregnancy discrimination rules change

October 30, 2015 --

By Dunn, Carney, Allen, Higgins & Tongue

EEOC Toughens Stance on Pregnancy Discrimination

On July 14 the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued new guidance on pregnancy discrimination and related issues. In 2013 the EEOC cautioned employers it was ramping up its focus on claims of pregnancy discrimination.

The EEOC’s new guidance addresses several issues including:

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Why I’m not worried about Oregon jobs (yet)

October 29, 2015 --

By Josh Lehner
Oregon Office of Economic Analysis Blog

Undoubtedly Oregon’s monthly employment reports have been less than stellar in the past handful of months. The unemployment rate has risen each month since April, although it’s back on track with it’s trend since the depths of the Great Recession. Conversely, job growth has been erratic to say the least. May saw no net job gains, June was weak and then the latest report for September showed recession-sized job losses. If accurate, these reports indicate a significant slowdown in Oregon’s labor market in recent months, if not worse.

However there is one big reason why our office is not concerned yet: wages. Specifically, withholdings out of Oregonian paychecks. We get daily and monthly reports from the Department of Revenue. As seen below it’s noisy data — it matters how many business days are in a month, or how many Fridays, etc — growth remains very strong today. Wages did stall somewhat in the second quarter but have resumed full-throttle growth since.


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Can I Fire A Medical Pot User?

October 28, 2015 --

By Bullard Law,
Portland law firm
By Michael G. McClory

Every once in a while we receive a letter in the (fictional) mailbag that is tough to describe and quite compelling.  This week, Isabel, the new HR manager at LabCo (and someone who is new to HR), wants to know whether she may fire the owner’s son for having an Oregon medical marijuana card.  In passing, Isabel also makes a number of alarming admissions about her motivation.  Here is Isabel’s nerve-racking question and our response to it.

Isabel’s Question:

I really want help, but need to be careful so I am not going to use real names.  Call me Isabel.  (Get it?  Until six months ago I was a high school English teacher.  HR is easier, and fun.  I just think of employees like students and everything, almost, is intuitive.)

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Small business gets minimum wage relief news

October 27, 2015 --

nfib-logoBy Anthony Smith,
Oregon NFIB

Small businesses get a reprieve, at least in the interim.

It’s not often that small business owners are met with good news regarding Oregon’s minimum wage, but the state will not see an increase in rates for the first time in five years.

Minimum wage will remain at $9.25 for 2016, state officials recently announced. State law has the wage tied to the Consumer Price Index, which barely showed any inflation. Last year’s wage jumped 15 cents.

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Oregon AG sues GNC nutritian chain

October 26, 2015 --

logo-attorneygeneral-deptjustice222By Oregon Attorney General,

Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum today filed a lawsuit against General Nutrition Corporation, GNC, for selling nutritional and dietary supplements containing the illegal ingredients picamilon and BMPEA. The lawsuit alleges that the company violated the Oregon Unlawful Trade Practices Act (UTPA) by misrepresenting certain products as lawful dietary supplements when they are actually unapproved drugs that may not be lawfully sold in the United States as a dietary supplement. The complaint also alleges that GNC sold products labeled as containing botanical acacia rigidula that had been spiked with unlabeled BMPEA.

“It is scary to know that certain products sold by GNC contain an ingredient that is not even labeled—let alone approved in the United States,” said Attorney General Rosenblum. “When Oregonians buy a dietary supplement, they deserve to know that the ingredients in the products are safe and comply with the law. There are 25 GNC stores in Oregon that sold thousands of these products over the span of a couple of years.”

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Small shops overwhelmed by new chip card demands

October 23, 2015 --

creditcardsalespurchaseBy National Retail Federation,

A gift shop owner told Congress  that making the change to chip-and-signature credit cards has been “overwhelming” for many small businesses and that owners are disappointed that without PINs they are being pressured to make an expensive investment without receiving the full level of security that could be provided.

“The EMV transition is overwhelming and expensive for an independent, small retailer,” Keith Lipert, owner of The Keith Lipert Gallery, a single-location, three-employee store in Washington, said. “Small retailers are entirely at the mercy and whims of the big players. We have no say and no way to use the marketplace to make our objections heard and our concerns valued.”

“EMV is all new to me, and banks and the networks are not contacting small businesses to help the transition in any way,” Lipert said. “No one from my bank, processor or existing supplier even contacted me about the need to add a new EMV device, let alone a deadline by which to do so.”

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Uber’s response to BOLI’s employee dispute

October 22, 2015 --

uberWilliam Barnes
Regional General Manager, West Uber

Dear Commissioner Avakian,

I write in response to your unprompted decision to issue an advisory opinion regarding drivers using the Uber platform. This decision and subsequent push to media is surprising, since the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries did so apparently without talking to any drivers and after a brief five-minute phone call with Uber that came out of the blue and was without context. The advisory determination is based on an erroneous and incomplete picture of how drivers use the Uber application in Oregon and as such, is filled with factual errors and assertions that are simply wrong.

Fundamentally, the findings fail to acknowledge that about 50 percent of drivers using Uber drive fewer than ten hours a week, less than even a traditional part-time job. These are people who value their flexibility and independence: the ability to work whenever and wherever they choose. That’s why many other labor agencies in the U.S.—including in Colorado, Florida, Illinois, California and New York—have concluded that drivers are independent contractors.

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BOLI rules Uber drivers are employees not contractors


cap-smallBureau of Labor and Industries
Public Press Release,

The Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI)  issued an Advisory Opinion that finds that Uber drivers are employees under Oregon labor law. The Advisory Opinion is intended to be instructive on what conclusions can be drawn from current, available information. To date, no case relevant to this question has been filed with BOLI. Any such case would be decided on the specific facts and legal arguments presented. “ Oregon’s worker protections are in place for a reason,” said Labor Commissioner Avakian.

“When corporations misclassify an employee, the worker is denied basic protections such a s the right to be paid on time and in full. It also creates an unfair playing field for other employers who pay employment taxes, minimum wage and workers ’ compensation insurance. ” Oregon’s economic realities test, the basis for the analysis, is comprised of the following factors:

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State job shock – first decline in three years

October 21, 2015 --

Oregon’s Employment Declines in September
By Oregon Employment Department,

Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment dropped by 5,300 jobs in September, the first monthly job decline in 36 months. Despite the job loss in September, Oregon has still added 49,500 jobs over the past year. That’s still a strong growth rate (2.9%) over the year, and faster than job expansion nationwide (2.1%), but slower than the 3.5 percent year-to-year job growth rate seen through August.

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Is 2015 Peak Rent?

October 20, 2015 --

By Josh Lehner
Oregon Office of Economic Analysis Blog

There have been at least three primary drivers of the massive shift toward renting in the past decade: finances, demographics, and taste and preferences. Much of the discussion surrounding this overall shift has focuses on the finance issues — foreclosures, credit availability, ability to afford, lack of down payment, etc — and with good reason as this is the most visible aspect of the housing bust and impact of the Great Recession. However given the ongoing strength in multifamily housing today, key questions are being asked. Among them: how long can it last and how much, if at all, will ownership rebound in the future? In other words, when will the housing market hit peak renter? To answer, let’s examine those three underlying drivers.

First, financial issues will continue to improve. Credit availability will loosen further (it has along some dimensions like down payments, yet not on FICO scores). Household balance sheets are largely in good to great shape. Strong economic growth, especially in the largest cities, is generating increased household formation, particularly among the higher income brackets. All of this suggests the market is, or will likely be, shifting toward ownership.

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