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Legislative Changes in the 2017 Session Create New Responsibilities and Potential Liabilities for Employers

By: Heather Bowman

Three new laws will affect employee rights and create new obligations and potential liabilities for Oregon employers.

  1. Predictive scheduling

The first statewide law of its kind, Oregon’s predictive scheduling law requires large employers (those with 500+ employees) in retail, hospitality, and food service industries to provide employees with at least seven days’ advance notice of scheduled shifts. Starting in 2020, that notice increases to two weeks. Employees can reject late changes to their schedules without penalty from their employers, and employers are penalized for late changes to the schedule. It also creates a 10-hour rest break that prevents employers from scheduling back-to-back shifts unless the employee requests or agrees to the schedule. The bill, which is expected to be signed into law by the governor, goes into effect in July, 2018.

  1. Employee confirmation of time cards

In order to avoid claims of incorrectly reported hours, many employers require their employees to sign an affirmative statement that the hours submitted are correct. Some Oregon employers have abused this practice by cutting employee time and requiring employees to sign falsified time records. Under HB 3008, an employer may not compel, coerce, or otherwise induce or attempt to induce an employee to create, file, or sign documents that contain hours of work or compensation received that the employer knows are false. The bill creates a private cause of action for violations, with damages of $1,000 per violation or actual damages, plus attorneys’ fees and costs. With each pay period in which a violation occurs forming a separate violation, there is a potential for significant exposure to employers. The law goes into effect January 1, 2018.

  1. Equal pay act

Finally, Oregon’s Equal Pay Act focuses on remedying pay discrepancies among women, minorities, and other employees in a protected class. It expands on existing federal and state law, making it so that employers cannot “in any manner discriminate between employees on the basis of a protected class in the payment of wages or other compensation for work of comparable character.” The law includes restrictions on salary history inquiries and expands remedies available to employees. It also provides a safe harbor for employers that have voluntarily evaluated their pay practices to identify and eliminate discrimination. The law creates a private right of action under which employees can seek unpaid wages, compensatory and punitive damages, and attorney fees. The law goes into effect January 1, 2019.