by Gail Cohen, Esq. - Assistant General Counsel, Employment and Litigation
June 27, 2019
Oregon has passed a law requiring employers with 6 or more employees to grant reasonable accommodations, absent undue hardship, to employees and applicants with known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. The law is effective January 1, 2020.
Here is a summary of its salient provisions:
Reasonable Accommodations: Like many of the pregnancy accommodation laws passed by other states, the Oregon statute identifies specific examples (though not an exhaustive list) of possible reasonable accommodations, including acquisition or modification of equipment; more frequent or longer breaks or rest periods; assistance with manual labor; and modification of job assignments.
Definition of Undue Hardship: The Oregon law defines undue hardship as “significant difficulty or expense,” but also provides several factors that can be weighed by employers to help them establish an undue hardship, such as the overall financial resources of the employer, including the size of its operations and number, type and location of its facilities; the cost and nature of accommodation the employee has sought; and the effect on expenses, resources or other impacts to the facility of the accommodation.
Unfair Employment Practices Related to Accommodation Obligations: The Oregon law also defines as an “unfair employment practice” as denying employment opportunities on the basis of an employee’s or applicant’s need for reasonable accommodations for known limitations; failing or refusing to make reasonable accommodations for known limitations, absent undue hardship; and requiring an employee to take leave under OFLA if the employer can make reasonable accommodations to known limitations.
Notice to Employees: Oregon employers are required to provide notice to employees of their rights, including to reasonable accommodation(s) in the form of posting in the workplace, as well as providing a written copy of the notice to new employees at the time of hire, to existing employees within 180 days of the Act’s effective date (that is, no later than July 1, 2020) and within 10 days of an employee informing the employer of her pregnancy.
Existing Oregon Law Regarding Pregnancy Protections: Of course Oregon, like virtually all other states and federal law, already prohibits discrimination or retaliation on the basis of sex, which is defined to include pregnancy.
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