Harassment and discrimination occur far too often at work and harms workers. Allegations can also have serious financial and reputational consequences for employers. Oregon addressed this issue by passing a new employment law with additional worker protections in 2019, the Oregon Workplace Fairness Act.
The law took effect on Oct. 1. All employers are required to have a written policy for reducing and preventing workplace harassment, discrimination, and sexual assault. Workers must receive this policy upon hiring and it must be readily accessible to all employees.
This workplace policy has to include information for reporting discrimination and harassment and the name of the person or position, such as manager or human resources director, who is authorized to receive worker complaints. An alternate individual or position must also be named. Finally, the policy must contain information on documenting unlawful discrimination and sexual assaults.
This new law provides time restrictions for filing legal actions. Workers now have five years to file a discrimination lawsuit or submit a workplace discrimination complaint with the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries if the incident took place on or after Sept. 29, 2019.
Nondisclosure agreements may have prevented multiple acts of discrimination in publicized cases across the country from being disclosed. Nondisclosure agreements are illegal under this law.
Employers may not require employees or potential employees enter an NDA that would prevent them from disclosing or discussing disclosing discriminatory conduct prohibited under three provisions of Oregon law. Entering an NDA cannot be a condition for employment, continued employment, promotion, compensation or receiving benefits.
An attorney can help employees protect their rights and seek damages for unlawful harassment and discrimination. Legal representation may also assist employers with having a lawful and healthy work environment and defend them against claims.