Employment Law Bills to Watch as Deadlines Approach

Published Thursday, April 6, 2017

During each Legislative Long Session, Associated Oregon Industries (AOI) works with a coalition of Oregon industry, agricultural and small business advocates to develop a list of bills that have the potential to hurt Oregon's job climate and slow the economy.

The list is particularly important this year. Because of the high cost of mandates - most notably paid sick leave and a higher minimum wage - imposed during the 2015 Legislative Session, the business community entered the 2017 Session asking Legislators to give them time to digest those measures before imposing new ones.

This request is not just a matter of convenience for businesses. As Legislators struggle to close a $1.6 billion budget hole, economic growth is as important as it ever has been. Increasing the cost of operating a business is not a resume for economic growth, especially at a time when the economy already is slowing down from the high-growth pace of the past two years.

The deadline for bills to move out of committee is less than two weeks away, and several bills with significant potential impacts on the business community remain in discussion. Today's list of bills to watch focuses on workplace regulations. 

HB 2005/SB 752: Pay Equity

Adds new penalties, including punitive damages for discriminatory practices that are already against the law.

HB 2169/SB 777: Attorney Fees on Wage Claims

Limits attorney fee awards to an employee who prevails on a wage claim against employer. Current law provides attorney fees for prevailing party.

HB 2180: Liens and Wage Claims

Allows employee who files wage claim against employer to immediately file a lien on the employer's real and personal property, without first obtaining judgment on the wage claim.

HB 2181: Retaliation and Wage Claims

Creates a new unlawful employment practice against an employer who takes any negative employment action against an employee who has engaged in certain "wage related activity" such as filing or inquiring about a wage claim.

HB 2193/SB 828: Predictive Scheduling

Requires employer to establish a "mutually acceptable work schedule" upon an employee request for a flexible or predictable work schedule. Mandates employers provide alternative work schedules. Requires "large" employers (retail, hospitality and food service with more than 25 employees) to post schedules two weeks in advance and pay extra compensation if the schedule is changed after posting.

HB 2856: BOLI Grants to Worker Advocacy Organizations

Creates Community Outreach and Labor Education Program within Bureau of Labor and Industries to promote awareness of employee rights. Appropriates moneys from General Fund to bureau for program outreach, education and technical assistance. Enhances remedies for violations of certain employee rights.

HB 3087: Paid Family Leave

Requires employers of all sizes to provide up to 12 weeks of family and medical leave, while current law only imposes this requirement on employers of 25 or more. Creates payroll tax to fund program. 

SB 301: Marijuana in the Workplace

Prohibits employers from conditioning employment or hiring on employee's use of legal substance (marijuana). Creates unlawful employment practice of conditioning employment or hiring on an employee's use of any legal substance during non-working hours, regardless of how long the substance remains in the employee's system. SB 301 would essentially prohibit employer zero-tolerance policies regarding employee impairment. For federal contractors, inability to ensure that workers weren't impaired would violate federal law. Passage of 301 would increase the risk of injuries for all employees, and likely lead to higher workers' compensation and insurance costs. 

SB 997: Health Care Costs

Requires employers of more than 50 workers whose employees are on the Oregon Health Plan to reimburse the state for costs associated with that health care coverage.

Associated Oregon Industries (AOI) and Oregon Business Association (OBA) will continue to monitor these bills. Watch the AOI-OBA Weekly Update newsletter and our social media accounts for additional information.