There's good news for Oregon employers about the recently concluded 2017 legislative session: unlike years past, there were only a very small number of workplace laws passed. In fact, the Oregon Legislature only passed four pieces of workplace legislation that are even worth discussing.
There's a downside, however. The significance of at least two of these new laws is fairly profound, and will almost certainly change the way you do business. This update will get you up to speed on the new laws so you can begin making necessary adjustments.
Oregon Follows Trend By Passing Equal Pay Law
Given the equal pay movement that has rapidly spread across the country in the past several years, seeing federal, state, and local action attempting to remedy the pay gap that exists between genders, it should come as no surprise that the legislature passed and Governor Brown signed HB 2005 - Oregon's new "Equal Pay Law." Although originally designed to aid women who were being paid less than men for the same work, the new law will go much further than that.
Oregon's new "Equal Pay Law" will explicitly prohibit employers from paying people less based not only on gender, but also on race, color, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, disability, or age - in other words, it will aim to eradicate a number of alleged unfair pay practices. Once the law takes effect, you must ensure that wage levels for comparable work are equivalent no matter the employee's protected class status. If you can identify bona fide reasons for pay disparities - such as seniority, merit, production-related metrics, workplace locations, travel needs, education, training, or experience - you should be able to avoid legal liability. However, if you identify problematic pay issues, you are prohibited from cutting someone else's pay in order to even things out; you must take active steps to remedy the gap.
The new law will also bar employers from using salary history when determining new workers' pay, ensuring that pay inequities do not become entrenched from one job to another. Businesses are also barred from firing workers who ask what their coworkers earn, so make sure any confidentiality provisions you might have in your policies do not interfere with this right.
There are two pieces of good news with this law. First, you can enjoy a safe harbor from the law if, within three years of any future legal action, you have voluntarily assessed your pay practices in order to identify...