Clean Up Your Contracts – Property Owners Could Be Liable for Janitors’ Unpaid Wages

Due to recent changes in Oregon law, if a janitorial service provider fails to pay its employees, the owner or manager of the property being cleaned could be liable for the unpaid wages (and additional penalties) unless the property owner or manager vets its janitorial service provider, as further described below.

A recent change to Oregon law (ORS 658.405 et. seq.; OAR Chapter 839-015) (the “Labor Contractor Laws”) now requires a janitorial service provider to obtain a license from the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (“BOLI”). Before this change, the Labor Contractor Laws only applied when hiring farm, forest, and certain construction workers. 

Specifically, the failure to hire a licensed janitorial service provider may result in the property owner or manager being subject to the following:

  • Joint and several liability for unpaid wages, employee claims of retaliation and discrimination, and related penalties;
  • Civil penalties imposed by BOLI; and
  • Attorney fees related to all of the above.

However, if a property owner or manager satisfies the following requirements, they will not be liable under the Labor Contractor Laws:

  • Does not knowingly use an unlicensed janitorial service provider;
  • Obtains and maintains a copy of the janitorial service provider’s valid BOLI license; and
  • Checks annually and confirms the license has been renewed and continues to be valid.

Property owners and managers using janitorial services should review their service agreements now to ensure they avoid potential liability and penalties.