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Pacific Northwest and Oregon Employer Workplace News - November 2015

Oregon Sick Leave: Applicability of Requirements to Employees Occasionally Working in State Unclear

Beginning January 1, 2016, Oregon will join a growing number of cities and states mandating that employers provide certain classes of employees with sick leave benefits. For the specific requirements imposed by the new legislation, including when sick leave must be paid, see our article, Oregon Enacts Paid Sick Leave.

Recently, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry (“BOLI”) released initial draft implementation rules for the new sick leave law. While clarifying some requirements for accrual and use, notice and posting, and determining whether sick time is paid or unpaid, the proposed rules unfortunately do not clarify whether, or to what extent, the new sick leave requirements apply to workers based in other states who travel to Oregon for business.

Other states with statewide sick leave mandates have expressly addressed the applicability of their sick leave requirements for workers based out-of-state. The California sick leave requirements, for example, apply only to employees who work at least 30 days in California within a year from the commencement of their employment.

The Oregon sick leave legislation is silent with respect to out-of-state employees. Many employers had expected this would be addressed in the proposed rules, either by a standard similar to California’s or one similar to the federal Family Medical Leave Act, which would provide that only employees based in Oregon would be subject to the accrual-and-use requirements of the law.

The proposed rules left unanswered whether employees traveling to Oregon, even for a short period, are entitled to accrue paid sick leave under the statute. Also unanswered is how employers are expected to administer mandated sick leave for workers only periodically in the state.

It remains to be seen whether BOLI will tackle this apparent legislative gap in subsequent versions of the proposed rules. Indeed, whether an administrative agency can constitutionally fill such a gap through an administrative rulemaking process is a real question.

For now, employers with operations outside of Oregon who send employees to work in Oregon would be well-advised to assess carefully what impact the new Oregon sick leave requirements will have on their operations.

2016 Oregon and Washington Minimums to Remain the Same

The minimum wage rates in Oregon and Washington will not change next year because the consumer price index (CPI) was almost unchanged. By law, these states’ minimums are tied to the CPI.

Oregon’s minimum wage will remain $9.25 per hour, and Washington’s minimum wage will remain $9.47 per hour. For years, Washington’s rate has been the highest state minimum in the country. That will change on January 1, 2016, when California and Massachusetts will increase their minimum wages to $10 per hour.

Employer Motive Focus of Religious Discrimination

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that to prevail in a disparate treatment claim of discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a rejected applicant for employment must only show that his or her need for religious accommodation was a motivating factor in the employer’s decision, not that the employer had knowledge of the applicant’s need. For details of the decision, see Supreme Court Refines Religious Discrimination Requirements under Title VII to Focus on Employer Motive.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2021National Law Review, Volume V, Number 331

About this Author

Michael Griffin, Jackson Lewis, Leave Health Management coordinator, Labor Disability lawyer,
Principal and Office Litigation Manager

Michael A. Griffin is a Principal and Office Litigation Manager in the Seattle, Washington, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He is also the Disability, Leave and Health Management coordinator for the Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon, offices, and he is the Litigation Manager for the Seattle, Washingon, office.

Mr. Griffin has a broad area of practice and responsibility with the firm. He acts as lead counsel on all aspects of employment litigation, including defending discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and...

Bryan P. O'Connor, Jackson Lewis, gender discrimination lawsuits lawyer, sexual harassment attorney
Office Managing Principal

Bryan P. O’Connor is the Office Managing Principal in the Seattle, Washington, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He has practiced labor and employment law his entire legal career.

Mr. O'Connor serves in many different capacities depending upon client needs. He has advised and represented both large and small employers in all aspects of traditional labor law across numerous industries, including construction, manufacturing, retail, health care, utility, food distribution, and government-related services. His roles include...

Sarah J. Ryan, Jackson Lewis Law Firm, Labor Employment Attorney

Sarah J. Ryan is a Principal in the Portland, Oregon, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She joined Jackson Lewis in late 2012 following over 25 years of employment and litigation practice in Portland, Oregon. Prior to joining the firm, Ms. Ryan chaired the Labor and Employment law practice group at a regional firm with four offices in three states.

Ms. Ryan represents some of Oregon’s leading employers and provides counsel and litigation services in general employment law, as well as a wide range of employee relations issues. Ms...

Christine A. Slattery, Jackson Lewis Law Firm, Litigation Attorney

Christine A. Slattery is an Associate in the Portland, Oregon, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She provides counsel and litigation services in general employment law.

Ms. Slattery litigates single plaintiff and class action lawsuits in state and federal court regarding harassment, discrimination and retaliation, breach of contract, wrongful termination, Title VII, ADA, ADEA, employment torts, wage and hour compliance, and state and federal family medical leave laws. Ms. Slattery also appears before administrative agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity...