Pop Quiz: How Well Do You Know Oregon’s Employment Laws?

Oregon has a lot of employment laws. Between new legislation and an evolving body of case law, it can be difficult (if not impossible) to know the ins and outs of all the laws that govern the workplace. Nonetheless, employers that are up to speed on employment law basics can spot scenarios with potential legal pitfalls before they find themselves dealing with costly litigation.  This article offers a short quiz you can use to test your knowledge on a random assortment of Oregon’s many employment laws. Good luck!


1  Do employers have to accommodate requests for lactation breaks?


Yes. Employers with 25 or more employees must provide 30-minute unpaid breaks during each four-hour work period. Employers subject to the rule must also make reasonable efforts to provide a location for the employee to express milk in private (public restrooms and toilet stalls don’t count).


2 On Monday, an employee gave notice of intent to quit his/her employment on Thursday. When are the employee’s final wages due?


The general rule in Oregon is that employers can pay final wages on the day following the employee’s discharge. However, there are several exceptions. If, like in this scenario, an employee gives at least 48-hours of intent to quit, the final wages are due on the last day worked (Thursday). Failure to pay final wages when they are due can result in costly fines and litigation, even if the mistake is seemingly very minor.


3 An employee broke my company’s equipment while working — can I deduct money from that individual’s paycheck to cover the cost of repair?


No. Oregon has strict laws regarding deductions from paychecks. Lawful deductions are generally limited to taxes, garnishments, health insurance premiums (if authorized in writing), deductions authorized by a collective bargaining agreement and deductions for a cash loan to the employee (provided certain conditions are met).


4 One of my employees is a victim of a crime and wants to miss work to attend related criminal proceedings. Can I discharge the employee if he/she doesn’t show up to work?


It depends. Employers with six or more employees must provide leave to crime victims who wish to attend related criminal proceedings. The employee must also have worked an average of 25+ hours per week for at least 180 days immediately before the leave of absence. There is no specific limit on the amount of leave, but the employer can limit the leave if it creates an undue hardship. Of course, employers can also choose to grant more benefits than what the law requires.


5 Some of my employees hold a medical marijuana card. Do I have to provide them with any special accommodations?


Oregon courts have determined that employers do not have to accommodate use of medical marijuana in the workplace, nor do they have to provide a “reasonable accommodation” of an employee’s use of medical marijuana, whether or not in the workplace. However, if the employee has a disability, the employee must still be provided with other reasonable accommodations needed to perform the essential functions of the job.


6 I asked my employee to sign a non-competition agreement on his/her first day of employment. Is it enforceable?


Probably not. Non-competition agreements are generally disfavored, and only enforceable under narrow circumstances. One of the requirements is that the employer must give a prospective employee at least two weeks’ written notice that a non-competition agreement is a condition of employment, or the non-competition agreement is entered into upon a subsequent “bona fide advancement.” The employee must also be exempt and earn more than the median family income for a family of four, as determined by the U.S. Census Bureau at the time of termination. Additionally, the employer needs to have a legitimate “protectable interest” (e.g., the employee has access to trade secrets or competitively sensitive confidential business information).
Please keep in mind that virtually every set of facts is unique and oftentimes implicates other employment laws. This quiz is also a very general overview and should not be used as legal advice. If your company is confronted with a tricky employment law issue, you should seek and consult with an employment law attorney. •

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Ossie Bladine  |  obladine@newsregister.com

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