State Law: Oregon

 

The Oregon statute against unlawful discrimination in employment, codified in Oregon Revised Statutes Section 659.030 and Section 659A, makes it illegal for an employer or labor organization to discriminate against someone on the basis of sex.


An "employee" under the Act "does not include any individual employed by the individual's parents, spouse or child or in the domestic service of any person." An "employer" means, "any person who in this state, directly or through an agent, engages or uses the personal service of one or more employees, reserving the right to control the means by which such service is or will be performed."


Thus, the Oregon statute against discrimination in the workplace applies to all employers with one or more employees, while Title VII only applies to employers with 15+ employees.


The Unlawful Discrimination in Employment Act specifically covers employment discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, marital status, national origin, age or disability.


Under Section 659A, discrimination in the basis of sex "includes, but is not limited to, because of pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions or occurrences. Women affected by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions or occurrences shall be treated the same for all employment-related purposes, including receipt of benefits under fringe benefit programs, as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work by reason of physical condition, and nothing in this section shall be interpreted to permit otherwise."


Filing A Complaint

The Civil Rights Division of Oregon's Bureau of Labor and Industries investigates complaints filed with it free of charge. Complaints under state law must be filed within one year of the date you became aware you were being discriminated against or the date of the alleged illegal act. You may file a complaint with the Division by visiting or calling one of the four regional offices, which are listed below:


Eugene Office
1400 Executive Pkwy, Suite 20
Eugene, OR 97401
(541) 686-7623


Medford Office
119 N. Oakdale Avenue
Medford, OR 97401
(541) 776-6270


Pendleton Office
1327 SE 3rd St., Rm 110
PO Box 459
Pendleton, OR 97801
(541) 276-7884


Portland Office
800 NE Oregon Street
Suite 1045
Portland, OR 97232


When you call the office, you will be able to speak with an intake officer. After speaking with the intake officer about the discrimination you believe you have experienced, you will be sent a Questionnaire to fill out if your allegations are covered by the law. A formal complaint will then be drafted for you to sign and have notarized.


Once you file a complaint with the Division, the Division will send your employer a copy of your complaint, stating that you believe you were/are being discriminated against. The employer will have an opportunity to respond to this complaint.


An Civil Rights Senior Investigator will be assigned to your case. Typically within 30 days of filing the investigator will interview you about your allegations. You may also be asked to participate in a fact-finding conference. After all relevant information is collected and potential witnesses are interviewed, the investigator will act as a neutral decision-maker to determine whether there is sufficient cause to believe you have been discriminated against and your rights violated. If so, a Substantial Evidence Determination will be issued. If sufficient cause is not found, your case will be dismissed.


Throughout the process, conciliation is always available if both parties agree to try to settle the dispute. After a Substantial Evidence Determination is issued, the Division will contact both parties to see if the complaint can be mediated through conciliation efforts.


If settlement negotiations fail, the Civil Rights Division's management will review the case to determine whether it should go to public hearing. A higher standard is required for an administrative hearing, so not all cases that receive a Substantial Evidence Determination will go forward, and you will be issued a Notice of Right to Sue. If your case goes to public hearing, you will not have to incur any legal expenses or other costs, as you would have to pay in a court case, unless you hire your own private attorney.


You may decide to go through the federal or state court process instead of the Division's investigative process. You must first file with the EEOC or Oregon Civil Rights Division and request a Notice of Right to Sue in order to file in court. The attorney you hire will explain this process to you. Most cases may be brought in either state or federal court, depending on the employer's number of employees. State law does not allow compensatory damages (emotional pain/suffering) or punitive damages, which are recoverable under federal law.


For more information and a more detailed explanation of the complaint process, please visit the Civil Rights Division of Oregon's Bureau of Labor and Industries website.