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Oregon Joins In and Passes New Protections for Harassment

On June 11, 2019, the Governor of Oregon signed into law new protections for individuals alleging workplace harassment and discrimination. Some of the new provisions are included below.
Nondisclosure agreements: It is unlawful to include a nondisclosure or nondisparagement clause in a settlement agreement if it has the “purpose or effect” of preventing an employee from discussing conduct related to unlawful discrimination or harassment at work, at a work-related event, or outside the workplace. Employers may not enter into agreements that include these provisions with individuals making discrimination/harassment claims unless the individual requests it and employees are given seven days to revoke the signed agreement.
New Written Anti-Discrimination Policies: Workplace anti-discrimination policies must include the process for reporting complaints, designate an individual to receive the report, advise employees of the statute of limitations, alert the employee to the nondisclosure rules above, and instruct all managers and employees to document incidents of discrimination and harassment.
Statute of Limitations: A new five-year statute of limitations for claims of employment discrimination and harassment will go into effect, expanded from the previous one-year statute of limitation.
Voiding of Mandatory Severance Agreements: Employers may be able to void prior severance agreements with executives, managers, and supervisors if it is determined, after investigation, that the individual violated the Workplace Fairness Act’s requirements and that violation was a substantial contributing factor for terminating the relationship.

The law goes into effect on October 1, 2020. Oregon employers should review all of the new requirements carefully.