The Oregon Workplace Fairness Act, which applies to all private employers in the state including families with household help, regardless of size, takes effect October 1.
The act creates several requirements for household employer policies related to harassment, including how and when those policies are distributed. It also prohibits certain clauses in confidentiality agreements.
Policy content requirements
Household employers must have a policy (or multiple policies) about discrimination, harassment, and reporting that include all of the following:
- A process for employees to report discrimination, harassment, and sexual assault;
- Identification of the person or position (for a household with multiple staff this could be the house manager or estate manager) as well as an alternate to whom an employee can report discrimination, harassment, or sexual assault;
- A statement that an employee has five years to file a lawsuit for discrimination (including for harassment and sexual assault) based on race, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, age, uniformed service, or disability;
- A statement that an employer may not require or coerce an employee to sign a nondisclosure or nondisparagement agreement, including a description of the meaning of those terms;
- An explanation that an employee claiming that they were discriminated against (including harassed or sexually assaulted) may voluntarily request to enter into a settlement, separation, or severance agreement that contains a nondisclosure, nondisparagement, or no-rehire provision only if the employee has at least seven days to revoke the agreement after signing; and
- A statement that advises employers and employees to document all incidents involving unlawful discrimination, including sexual assault.
Household employers should update their policies and work agreements to include the information above. Household employers who do not have a policy in place or would like to work from a template can use one provided by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (downloads a Word Doc).
Policy distribution requirements
All household employers must:
- Make the policy available to employees in the workplace;
- Provide a copy of the policy to each employee at the time of hire; and
- Require the person who receives complaints to provide a copy of the policy to an employee when they complain about prohibited discrimination, harassment, or sexual assault.
Employers can satisfy the second requirement by including the policy in their employee handbook.
Prohibitions on confidentiality agreements
Household employers cannot require that employees or applicants enter into an agreement that includes a nondisclosure, nondisparagement, or any other provision intended to prevent the employee from disclosing or discussing conduct that constitutes illegal workplace discrimination or harassment (including conduct that occurred at a work-related event). The law has additional requirements and provides several exceptions.
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