ENFORCING CIVIL RIGHTS LAWS
|How to File a Complaint|
The Civil Rights Division of the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) enforces Oregon´s civil rights laws. These laws ban discrimination against individuals because of characteristics that make them part of a protected class. Anyone claiming to have been discriminated against at work, in a place where the public is served such as a restaurant or a hotel, when buying or renting housing or when applying for or attending a career school can file a complaint with the BOLI´s Civil Rights Division.
Ways of Filing a Discrimination Complaint
There are many ways to make a complaint about discrimination including:
Webster defines discrimination as "to make a difference in treatment on the basis of other than personal merit." Simply said, it means treating people differently. Not all discrimination is illegal. For example, an employer can choose to hire one person instead of another or a restaurant can turn people away for reasons that may not be unlawful.
Discrimination is unlawful when carried out because of an individual´s race, color, gender or other characteristic protected by law. Such characteristics place people into "protected classes." Everyone belongs to a number of protected classes. For example, we all have a race, a color and a gender.
There are federal, state, county, and city discrimination laws banning discrimination because of an individual´s protected classes.
Federal Discrimination Law
In order to be protected by Title VII of the 1968 Civil Rights Act, workers must be employed by a company with 15 or more employees. The act protects workers from discrimination based on:
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act provides discrimination protection to workers, age 40 and older, in companies of 20 or more employees.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 protects disabled workers in companies with 15 or more employees.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) covers workers in companies with 50 or more employees.
Federal discrimination complaints must be filed within 300 days of the date the discrimination occurred. FMLA complaints must be filed within two years, however. Please note, that Oregon employers covered by both federal and state laws must follow the law that provides the most protection for employees.
State Discrimination Law
In order to be protected by Oregon´s discrimination laws, employees must be employed by a company with at least one or more employees, except where noted. Protected classes include:
- Race / color
- National origin
- Sex (includes gender, pregnancy and sexual harassment)
- Sexual orientation
- Retaliation for opposing an unlawful employment practice
- Association with a member of a protected class
- Age (18 or older)
- Marital status
- Physical/Mental disability (6 or more employees)
- Injured workers (6 or more employees)
- Family relationship.
Oregon employees also have civil rights protections related to:
- Opposition to health/safety conditions
- Expunged juvenile record
- Polygraph/blood alcohol tests
- Genetic screening/brain wave tests
- Consumption of lawful tobacco products during non-work hours
- Child care garnishment
- Volunteer firefighter leave
- Organized militia leave
- Payment of medical exams as a condition of continued employment
- Family leave (25 or more employees)
- Leave to donate bone marrow
- Right of access to employer owned housing
- Reporting health care violations in nursing homes
- Leave for members of legislative assembly
- Legislative testimony
- Testifying at unemployment hearings
- Whistleblowing law
- Reporting criminal activity
- Retailiation against nurses reporting hospital health and safety violations
- Academic degree in theology or religious occupation
Discrimination in Real Property Transactions
State discrimination law also prohibits a person from refusing to sell, lease, or rent any real property because of an individual´s race, color, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, national origin, religion, marital status, familial status, physical or mental disability, or source of income.
Discrimination in Public Accommodation
A place of public accommodation is defined in state law as any place that offers the public accommodations, advantages, facilities or privileges, whether in the nature of goods, services, lodging, amusements or otherwise. It is illegal to discriminate in places of public accommodation on the basis of race, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, national origin, religion, marital status, physical or mental disability, or age (18 years of age and older).
Discrimination in Career Schools
No career school (private vocational, professional, or trade) licensed to operate in Oregon may discriminate in its admission or instruction practices because of an individual´s race, color, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, marital status, religion, national origin, age, or physical or mental disabilities.
Local Ordinances in Portland, Eugene, Salem and Corvallis, and Benton and Multnomah Counties
The Cities of Corvallis, Eugene, Portland and Salem, and Benton and Multnomah counties have ordinances prohibiting discrimination. The Civil Rights Division is contracted to enforce the parts of these ordinances that are not protected under state law, including source of income. Contact a civil rights intake office for the protected classes covered under each ordinance.