Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed an amendment to the Oregon Safe Employment Act (OSEA) providing additional protections from retaliation to Oregon employees. Effective June 15, 2021, there is a a “rebuttable presumption” of discrimination or retaliation if an employer takes an adverse action against any employee or prospective employee who engaged in certain protected activities within 60 days of that activity.
General Overview of the OSEA
The OSEA requires employers to provide a safe place of employment, to follow certain enumerated health and safety regulations, and protects employees and prospective employees who engage in certain protected activities from discrimination or retaliation. Employees who engage in the following activities are protected by OSEA:
- Oppose any practice forbidden by the OSEA;
- Make any complaint, initiate or testify in a proceeding under the OSEA;
- Exercise, on behalf of the employee, prospective employee, or others, any rights afforded under OSEA;
- Report in good faith an assault occurring on the premises of a healthcare employer or in the home of a patient receiving home healthcare services.
2021 Amendments to the OSEA
Any employee subjected to unlawful retaliation or discrimination may file a complaint with the Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries within 90 days pursuant to OSEA. Prior to the 2021 amendment, an employee was previously required to prove that unlawful discrimination occurred in a discrimination or retaliation compliant. Now, there is a presumption of discrimination or retaliation when an adverse action is taken within 60 days of the employee engaging in activity protected under OSEA.
Employers are encouraged to review and may want to revise their existing anti-retaliation policies to cover OSEA workplace safety complaints as well as update their training to managers on OSEAs anti-retaliation provisions.
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