Potential 2022 Legislation Impacting Employers

By Clay Creps

The Oregon Legislature has begun its 2022 Regular Session and we want to make you aware of a number of interesting bills which could impact the employment arena. It is too early to know which of these, if any, will become law, but we can see trends in employment law by looking them over.

Workplace Fairness Act Amendments
In 2019, the Legislature enacted the Workplace Fairness Act requiring employers to have a sexual harassment policy, and making it an unlawful employment practice for employers to require employees to enter into agreements that would prevent them from disclosing or discussing conduct constituting unlawful discrimination (including sexual assault) – unless the employee requested this. Senate Bill 1586 would amend the Workplace Fairness Act to make it an unlawful employment practice for employers to ask employees to make such a request, or to make an offer of settlement conditional upon such a request. Further, although mediation communications are normally confidential, SB 1586 would make communications violating the amendments not confidential, and these communications would become admissible in judicial or administrative proceedings. It is our understanding that negotiations regarding the language of SB 1586 are ongoing, and it is likely that mediation communications will ultimately remain confidential, and that employers will still be allowed to ask employees to make such a request.

Notice of Mandatory Overtime
Senate Bill 1513 would prohibit employers from taking adverse action against certain manufacturing employees who refuse to work mandatory overtime shifts – unless the employer provides the employee with at least two weeks’ advance notice of the mandatory overtime shift.

Overtime for Agricultural Workers
Agricultural workers are for the most part exempt from the requirement to be paid overtime, but, if passed, House Bill 4002 will change this. The number of hours in a workweek after which workers would be required to be paid overtime would be set to 55 in 2023 and move to 40 in 2027. In exchange for this, the Bill would create an income or corporate excise tax credit for the excess amount of wages paid as overtime to agricultural workers.

Mandatory Human Trafficking Reporting
House Bill 4074 would require employees of or workers for a marijuana licensee to report human trafficking on licensed premises to the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission. This is a controversial bill which provides little to no guidance as to how employees are to be informed of this obligation, or how they will know what to do. By comparison, attorneys are mandatory reporters regarding child and elder abuse, and are required to take continuing education classes regarding this obligation.

The Labor & Employment Practice Group at Tonkon Torp will continue to track this regular session of the Oregon Legislature and will keep you apprised of future developments. 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.

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