April 22, 2019

April 19, 2019

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

Portland, Oregon, Bars Discrimination Against Atheists, Agnostics

An amendment to the civil rights code of Portland, Oregon, extends protections against discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations to atheists, agnostics, and other “non-believers.” Religious facilities are expressly exempt.

The Portland City Code, chapter 23.01, already prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, and national origin. The amendment, unanimously approved by the Portland City Council, will go into effect on March 29, 2019.

The new ordinance amends Portland’s civil rights ordinances to include “non-religion” as a protected class. It also broadens the definition of “religion” used in the City Code, clarifying that it “expressly includes non-religion, such as atheism, agnosticism, and non-belief in God or gods as has been recognized by the courts.”

After the new ordinance goes into effect, employees who suffer discrimination on the basis of non-religion may sue their employer or lodge a complaint with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries.

Employers in Portland, as well as employers with employees who work within the city, must comply with the new ordinance. Employers should ensure compliance by updating their workplace procedures and policies, as well as their employee handbooks, and train management and employees on the procedures and policies.

Portland is the second city in the nation, after Madison, Wisconsin, to designate non-believers as a protected class.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2019

TRENDING LEGAL ANALYSIS


About this Author

April Upchurch Fredrickson, Employer legal advisor, Jackson Lewis, disability accommodation lawyer
Associate

April Upchurch Fredrickson is an Associate in the Portland, Oregon, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Ms. Upchurch Fredrickson advises employers on a variety of issues including employee discipline and termination, employment discrimination, state and federal leave laws, disability accommodation, wage and hour compliance, employment policies and practices, and non-compete agreements.

In dealing with her clients, Ms. Upchurch Fredrickson emphasizes the importance of preventive counseling to minimize the risk of costly litigation...

503-345-4153
Associate

Bryce W. Hanks is an Associate in the Portland, Oregon, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. His practice focuses on representing employers in workplace law matters, including preventive advice and counseling.

503-229-0404