Starting January 1, 2022, Oregon will join several other states in implementing a law explicitly prohibiting employers from discriminating against individuals based on physical characteristics historically associated with race, including hair texture and protective hairstyles. Known as the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act (CROWN Act), the law will also prohibit employer dress code policies that “have a disproportionate adverse impact on members of a protected class to a greater extent than the policy impacts persons generally.” Employers may want to revisit any outdated dress code policies to ensure they are not prohibiting protective hairstyles and other physical characteristics historically associated with race.

Workplace Safety Violations

Starting January 1, 2022, employees claiming workplace safety violations will have one year to file administrative complaints with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) rather than a 90-day limitation period. The time to file a claim commences after the employee has “reasonable cause to believe” that retaliation or discrimination occurred. Enhanced whistleblower protections for workplace safety complaints that are already in effect include a “rebuttable presumption” of discrimination or retaliation if an employee or prospective employee experiences an adverse employment action within 60 days after reporting certain workplace safety violations.

Employment Eligibility Based on Driver’s License

Under Senate Bill 569, effective January 1, 2022, it will be an unlawful employment practice to require an employee or prospective employee to have a driver license “as a condition for employment or continuation of employment” unless driving is an essential job duty “or is related to a legitimate business purpose.” Employers must also accept a valid form of identification other than a driver’s license for I-9 verification. The law does not prohibit an employer from accepting a driver’s license as a form of identification if voluntarily offered by an employee or prospective employee.

Noncompetition Agreements

On January 1, 2022, substantial changes to the statute that limits non-competition agreements with Oregon employees will take effect. Two notable changes to the statute are a requirement that employees subject to a non-competition agreement earn a gross salary and commissions of more than $100,533 (adjusted annually for inflation) and a shortened post-employment restricted period of 12 months instead of 18 months. This means any previously established non-compete will be come null and void if they do not meet the above conditions.

Minimum Wage Increases

On July 1, 2022, Oregon’s minimum wage increase will take effect. In Oregon, the minimum wage rate varies depending upon an employer’s location categorized by (1) standard counties; (2) Portland’s metropolitan area; and (3) nonurban counties. The wage increase for each location will be as follows: (1) standard counties: $13.50 per hour; (2) Portland metro region: $14.75 per hour; and (3) nonurban counties: $12.50 per hour. BOLI provides a map identifying the applicable minimum wage for each county.

This post originally appeared in National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 362