By Christopher Morehead and Clay Creps
Although it may be the understatement of the century, a lot has happened in Oregon in 2020. An employer could be forgiven for overlooking that SB 726 – the Workplace Fairness Act (WFA) – goes into effect on October 1, 2020, nearly 16 months after it was signed into law by Governor Brown. If you are an Oregon employer who forgot about this law (or is hearing about it for the first time), this is your reminder to act now to make sure your company is compliant once the WFA goes into effect.
As we discussed last year, the sweeping legislation aims to address concerns raised by the #MeToo movement. You can find our general overview of the law here.
Perhaps the most important thing for employers to do before October 1, however, is to ensure that your company has a written anti-discrimination policy that checks all of the requirements under the new law. Specifically, the WFA requires that the policy must convey:
- The process by which to report alleged discrimination or harassment;
- The name of a specific individual, and an alternate person, to whom reports of suspected discrimination or harassment are to be made;
- An encouragement that employees and employers are to document any incidents believed to constitute discrimination or harassment;
- That an employee has five years from a suspected incident of discrimination or harassment to bring a legal action; and
- That an employee may not be required to enter into any kind of a non-disparagement or nondisclosure agreement regarding alleged discrimination or harassment, unless requested by the aggrieved employee; and that an employee making such a request has seven days to revoke such an agreement.
Notably, the policy must be given to all employees at the time of hire. Further, if an employee makes a complaint, the employer must give the employee a copy of the policy at that time.
Given all of the new requirements, it is likely that your pre-WFA anti-discrimination policy needs to be updated.
This update is prepared for the general information of our clients and friends. It should not be regarded as legal advice. If you have questions about the issues raised here, please contact any of the attorneys in our Labor & Employment Practice Group, or the attorney with whom you normally consult.