L&E Update Prepares Employers for 2023 Employment Law Trends and Changes

Attorneys from Tonkon Torp’s Labor & Employment Practice Group hosted their annual  “Guide to Employment Best Practices” on December 8. The virtual event featured talks on timely trends and issues facing Oregon employers.

Attorney Olivia Hariharan Godt led a session on the hybrid workplace. After setting the stage for the current state of hybrid work in the U.S., Olivia shared examples of electronic employee monitoring available to employers and explained how employee monitoring intersects with wiretapping and privacy laws at the federal level as well as in Oregon, Washington, and California. She addressed the new wave of laws specific to employee monitoring that have recently passed or that are on the horizon, and provided best practices for employee monitoring.

Continuing the discussion of hybrid workplaces, attorney Carlie Bacon explored the broad spectrum of topics employers might include in remote work policies, including employee eligibility, remote work requests that exclude ADA accommodations, and responsibility for resources and reimbursable expenses. She shared additional insight into including provisions addressing remote work injuries, outside employment, use of personal devices, and information security. Carlie wrapped up her presentation with a look at jurisdictional considerations for companies that have remote workers.

Attorney Jordan Jeter focused on the much-anticipated activation of Paid Leave Oregon (PLO), signed into law on July 1, 2019. She provided an overview of PLO dates and benefits, employee eligibility and job protection, and contribution rates for employers and employees. She offered options for creating an Equivalent Plan, provisions for small employers, and actions all Oregon employers must take with regard to PLO. Jordan also highlighted how PLO intersects with existing leave laws such as FMLA, OFLA, Oregon Sick Leave, and Washington’s Paid Family Medical Leave.

Labor & Employment Practice Group Chair Kristin Bremer Moore discussed trends in labor activity, protected by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), and briefed attendees on the political nature of the NLRA Labor Board and General Counsel, President Biden’s pro-union pledge, and the agenda of General Counsel Abruzzo, who is pro-labor and pro-unionization. Kristin explored motivating factors behind the dramatic nationwide uptick in union organizing by workers in industries of all kinds and ended her talk reviewing strategies employers can adopt to support positive labor relations in the workplace.

Partner Blerina Kotori covered the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), reviewing its fundamentals as well as trends which have emerged in response to the changing nature of the workplace and society. After revisiting ADA basics, she discussed the implications of multi-state workplaces, the shift in how employees view work, increased empowerment in the workplace, and how there has been  a rise in employees calling out companies on social media. These changes have led to a sharp increase in ADA litigation and requests. Top current accommodation requests relate to: remote work, long COVID, social justice issues, pets, and vaccine policies with related exemptions.  

The webinar is available for viewing below.

Tonkon Torp’s Labor & Employment Practice Group provides practical solutions to labor and employment problems for a diverse group of employers. The firm helps clients promote positive employee relations, set rules and standards for employee conduct, protect competitive positions, deal with union activity, and defend against (or minimize exposure to) employment litigation.