Seven Major Oregon Employment Law Changed in 2022

1. State of Public Health Emergency Extended and Impact on Leave Entitlements

On December 21, 2021, Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued Executive Order No. 21-36 extending Oregon’s state of public health emergency until June 30, 2022.

Oregon employers need to stay up to date on employee leave entitlements as we continue to deal with potential school closures and/or student quarantines due to exposures to COVID-19. Employees have legal rights to time off under the Oregon Sick Leave (OSL) law and/or the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) in the event that the children of employees are subject to quarantine orders or required closures of their schools or places of care.

2. Oregon CROWN Act – HB 2935 (Anti-Discrimination Law Amendments)

Effective January 1, 2022

Oregon law now explicitly prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals based on physical characteristics historically associated with race, including hair texture and protective hairstyles. Known as the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act (CROWN Act).

This law adds two definitions to ORS 659A.001 (the statute covering employment discrimination):

  • “Protective hairstyle” means a hairstyle, hair color, or manner of wearing hair that includes, but is not limited to, braids—regardless of whether the braids are created with extensions or styled with adornments—locs, and twists.
  • “Race” includes physical characteristics that are historically associated with race including but not limited to natural hair, hair texture, hair type, and protective hairstyles.

3. Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) Amendments – HB 2474

Effective January 1, 2022

Under the amended OFLA, employees who are reemployed after a separation or who have returned to work after a temporary work cessation within 180 days are eligible to take leave. OFLA also now includes expanded eligibility to take leave during public health emergencies.
As amended, OFLA allows an employee of a covered employer to take leave for any qualifying reason during a period of public health emergency if:

  • the employer has employed the worker for at least 30 days immediately before the leave begins, and
  • the worker worked an average of at least 25 hours per week during the 30 days immediately preceding the leave.

Expanded Eligibility and Reasons for Leave

For purposes of OFLA leave, “public health emergency” means a public health emergency declared under Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) 433.441, or an emergency declared under ORS 401.165, if related to a public health emergency as defined in ORS 433.442.

The amendments further codify recent rule changes by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI), expanding the list of qualifying OFLA reasons to include leave to care for a child of the employee “who requires home care due to the closure of the child’s school or child care provider as a result of a public health emergency.”

4. Extending Time to File a Health and Safety BOLI Complaint to One Year – HB 2420

Effective January 1, 2022

This law extends the time for an employee to file a BOLI complaint regarding health and safety from 90 days to one year. The time to file a claim begins after the employee has “reasonable cause to believe” that retaliation or discrimination occurred. Enhanced whistleblower protections for workplace safety complaints that are already in effect include a “rebuttable presumption” of discrimination or retaliation if an employee or prospective employee experiences an adverse employment action within 60 days after reporting certain workplace safety violations.

5. Prohibition on Making Driver’s License a Requirement for Most Jobs – SB 569

Effective January 1, 2022

This law prohibits employers from requiring a valid driver’s license as a condition of employment unless the ability to legally drive is an essential function of the job or is related to a legitimate business purpose. The law does not prohibit an employer from accepting a driver’s license as a form of identification if voluntarily offered by an employee or prospective employee.

6. Noncompetition Agreements – SB 169

Effective January 1, 2022

This law brings two changes to the statute that limits non-competition agreements with Oregon employees including: 1) bringing about a requirement that employees subject to a non-competition agreement earn a gross salary and commissions of more than $100,533 (adjusted annually for inflation) and 2) a shortened post-employment restricted period of 12 months instead of 18 months. Agreements longer than 12 months are void.

7. Rebuttable Presumption of a Violation If Employee Is Terminated Within 60 Days of Engaging in Protected Activity – SB 483

Effective January 1, 2022.

Oregon law prohibits employers from discriminating against any employee because they:

  • Opposed any practice forbidden by Oregon’s health and safety laws;
  • Made a complaint, initiated a case, or testified relating to Oregon’s health and safety laws;
  • Exercised a protected right under Oregon’s health and safety laws; or
  • In good faith reported an assault that occurred on the premises of a healthcare employer or in the home of a patient receiving home healthcare services.

What this Update Means: In any BOLI action regarding the unlawful employment practices above, there is now a rebuttable presumption that a violation occurred if an employer terminates an employee within 60 days after the employee engaged in the protected activities. An employer may show evidence to the contrary to overcome this presumption.

If an employer terminates an employee outside of the 60 days, there is no presumption. The burden of proof is on the employee to demonstrate evidence that a violation occurred.