Key Provisions of Oregon Workplace Fairness Act Go Into Effect Oct. 1

Credit union law firm, Farleigh Wada Witt, provides guidance on the Act and encourages credit unions to review and update their nondiscrimination policies and employee handbooks.

Rules and Regulations Stamps9/22/2020 

Editor’s Note: The following information and guidance has been shared by credit union law firm, Farleigh Wada Witt, on key provisions of the Oregon Workplace Fairness Act, which go into effect in two weeks.

The deadline for employers to implement the requirements of the Oregon Workplace Fairness Act is quickly approaching. We previously wrote about the Act in our 2019 legislative update, and updated many harassment-free workplace policies for Oregon employers. However, new key provisions of the Act go into effect on Oct. 1. The Act made significant changes to Oregon law governing discrimination and harassment claims, which requires employers to adopt a written antidiscrimination and anti-harassment policy that does the following:

  • Provides a clear process for an employee to report alleged discrimination and harassment;
  • Identifies an individual designated by the employer, as well as an alternate person, who is responsible for receiving reports of alleged discrimination and harassment;
  • Notifies employees that they have five years from the date of the alleged discrimination or harassment to file a claim;
  • Includes a statement that the employer may not require or coerce an employee to enter into a nondisclosure or nondisparagement agreement;
  • Explains that an employee may voluntarily request to enter into an agreement that contains nondisclosure, nondisparagement or no-rehire clauses, but has seven days to revoke the agreement; and
  • Includes a statement that advises employers and employees to document any incidents of alleged discrimination or harassment.

Under the Act, employers must make this policy available to all employees. Further, employers must also provide a copy to all new hires, as well as provide a copy to an employee at the time the employee reports alleged discrimination or harassment.

Additional Provisions of the Act

The Act expands the statute of limitations period on workplace discrimination, harassment, and sexual assault claims from one year to five years. This took effect in September 2019. However, this expanded limitations period does not affect the statute of limitations for claims made under federal law.

Additionally, effective Oct. 1, employers may no longer include nondisclosure, nondisparagement, and no-rehire provisions in employment or settlement agreements for discrimination, harassment, or sexual assault claims, unless an employee requests those terms.

Finally, employers may void severance agreements for managers and executives who violate antidiscrimination or anti-harassment policies. The employer must conduct a good-faith investigation of the report of discrimination or harassment, and if the employer determines that the manager engaged in unlawful conduct, the employer may void any separation or severance provision contained in an employment agreement with the manager.

Conclusion

The Act requires all employers to take affirmative steps to adopt policies that conform to the Act, so employers should make sure that they are in compliance with its requirements by reviewing and updating their nondiscrimination policies and employee handbooks.

Please reach out to the Farleigh Wada Witt Employment attorneys with your questions about the Oregon Workplace Fairness Act or for assistance to ensure that your policies and handbooks are compliant with the Act.