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Affirmative Action Plan

PUBLIC DEFENSE SERVICES COMMISSION’S NON-DISCRIMINATION AND AFFIRMATIVE ACTION PLAN
 
Introduction
 
The purpose of this plan is to initiate and maintain a non-discrimination and affirmative action program consistent with directives of the Governor and applicable state and federal laws and regulations.
 
Non-Discrimination and Affirmative Action Policy
 
It is the policy of the Public Defense Services Commission that no person shall be discriminated against by reason of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, age (if the individual is 18 years of age or older), or disability not directly and substantively related
to effective performance. It is also the policy of PDSC to establish a program of affirmative action to address the effects of discrimination intended and unintended, which is indicated by analysis of present employment patterns, practices and policies.
 
PDSC's Non-Discrimination and Affirmative Action Plan shall be followed by all PDSC staff. All personnel actions of PDSC shall be administered according to this policy. PDSC's supervisory and management staff shall ensure that the intent as well as the stated requirements of the Plan are implemented. In addition, it is the duty of every employee of PDSC to create a job environment that is conducive to non-discrimination and free of
any form of discriminatory harassment.
 
This Non-Discrimination and Affirmative Action Plan will be posted in plain sight at all times for employees' use and referral. Any agency or member
of the public requesting a copy of the PDSC Affirmative Action Plan shall be provided one at no cost.
 
Harassment in the Workplace Policy and Procedures
 
Harassment is a form of discrimination that is prohibited by state and federal law and by PDSC’s Affirmative Action Policy.  Any person who believes that he or she has been harassed at PDSC based on race, color, national origin, religion, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, age, or disability, or based on opposition to discrimination or participation in investigation or complaint proceedings under this policy may file a formal or informal complaint with PDSC’s Executive Director. Confidentiality will be maintained to the fullest extent permitted.
 
Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
 
P submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment;
 
P submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting that individual; or
 
P such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.
 
Harassment based on race, color, national origin, religion, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, age, disability, or because the employee opposed job discrimination or participated in an investigation or complaint proceeding under this policy is any objectionable act, comment or display that demeans, belittles, or causes personal humiliation or embarrassment, intimidation or threat engaged in by an individual that is directed at and offensive to another person or persons in the workplace, that the individual knew or ought reasonably to have known would cause offense or harm when:
 
P submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment;
 
P submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting that individual; or
 
P such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.
 
PDSC’s informal complaint process affords an opportunity to gather information to either establish a suspicion of harassment or to attempt to resolve a disagreement without following PDSC’s formal complaint procedure. An informal complaint involves the following procedures:
 
P The complainant submits a written or oral complaint to the Executive Director or his designee,[1] who advises the complainant of her or his right to file a formal complaint with PDSC or with other state and federal agencies.
 
P The Executive Director contacts the individual or individuals accused of harassment to discuss the alleged harmful act.
 
P The Executive Director develops a proposed resolution, if appropriate, and informs the parties of that proposed resolution within fifteen (15) calendar days of receipt of the informal complaint.
 
P If the proposed resolution is unacceptable to the complainant, she or he may file a formal complaint with the Executive Director.
 
PDSC’s formal complaint process ensures the investigation of cases of alleged harassment, the determination as to whether or not harassment has occurred and, where appropriate, the resolution of a complaint. A formal complaint involves the following procedures:
 
P The complainant submits her or his complaint in writing to the Executive Director or his designee, which must be filed within 365 days of the alleged harmful act.
 
P The Executive Director acknowledges in a Letter of Acknowledgement receipt of the formal complaint, which includes information on the complainant's right to file a complaint with other state or federal agencies. Copies of the Letter of Acknowledgement are sent to the individual or individuals accused of harassment and the director of the relevant division of PDSC. Upon determining that the complaint is facially valid, the Executive Director conducts a thorough investigation of the complaint.
 
P Within thirty (30) calendar days of receipt of the formal complaint, the Executive Director informs the complainant and all persons who received copies of the Letter of Acknowledgement of the formal complaint by a Letter of Determination of the final status of the complaint, its disposition and the complainant’s rights to file a complaint with other state or federal agencies.
 
Persons with Disabilities Policy and Procedures
 
It is the policy of PDSC to comply fully with Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) as amended by the 2008 ADA Amendments Act, and other applicable federal and state laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability. The Rehabilitation Act and the ADA require that no qualified person shall, solely by reason of disability, be denied access to, participation in, or the benefits of, any program or activity operated by PDSC. Each qualified person shall receive the reasonable accommodations needed to ensure equal access to employment, educational opportunities, programs, and activities in the most integrated setting.
 
For a disability to be protected by the ADA, an impairment must substantially limit one or more major life activities. These are activities that an average person can perform with little or no difficulty, such as walking, seeing, or working.  Temporary impairments, including pregnancy, are not covered as disabilities under the ADA.
 
PDSC’s employees or qualified applicants for employment by PDSC with disabilities shall be responsible for:
 
P notifying PDSC in a timely fashion of their need for reasonable accommodations;
 
P submitting appropriate documentation of the disability from an appropriate professional prior to receiving the accommodations requested; and
 
P demonstrating and documenting how the disability affects the employee’s job processes, functions, responsibilities or performance evaluation criteria when requesting reasonable accommodations.
 
Upon receiving such notification and documentation from a disabled employee or applicant for employment requesting reasonable accommodation, PDSC shall be responsible for:
 
P making reasonable accommodations for a physical or mental disability, including but not limited to job restructuring, reassignment to a vacant position, part-time or modified work schedules, assistive technology, or aides or qualified interpreters, which do not create an "undue hardship" (defined as significantly difficult or expensive), and excluding the creation of new jobs or the reallocation of essential functions to another employee;
 
P engaging in an interactive process with the disabled employee or qualified applicant for employment with regard to the type of accommodation that will enable the individual to perform the essential functions of the relevant position;
 
P evaluating the employee’s or applicant’s physical or mental limitations in order to determine the accommodation that will be effective, excluding accommodations of a personal nature such as a guide dog for a visually impaired employee, or a wheelchair;
 
P keeping confidential any medical information obtained from a disabled employee or applicant; and
 
P using qualification or performance standards, tests and other selection criteria that screen out individuals with disabilities only when they are
    (a) job-related and consistent with business necessity and (b) cannot be satisfied through the provision of a reasonable accommodation.
 
Employee Training and Education
 
The Oregon State Bar requires every attorney licensed to practice law in the state to attend Continuing Legal Education (CLE) programs that train and educate lawyers concerning issues of elimination of bias in the legal profession and the practice of law. PDSC presents in-house training programs that satisfy these requirements. PDSC has presented in-house diversity training for all employees that  satisfy the Bar’s CLE requirements, and plans to continue to do so.
 
Responsibilities for Implementation
 
The person responsible for discharging this policy is PDSC's Executive Director: Nancy Cozine, 1175 Court Street N.E., Salem, OR 97301;
(503) 378-2515.
 
The Chief Defender of PDSC’s Appellate Division and the Director of PDSC’s Contract and Business Services Division are assigned the following responsibilities:
 
P Brief all new employees on PDSC’s affirmative action plan and their role in supporting it.
 
P Periodically review training programs and hiring and promotion patterns in order to remove impediments to attaining affirmative action goals
    and objectives.
 
P Regularly discuss PDSC's affirmative action policy with employees to ensure the policy is being followed.
 
P Periodically review office policies, practices and conditions to ensure that:
 
o   Equal Employment Opportunity information and PDSC's affirmative action policy are properly displayed;
 
o   all facilities for the use and benefit of employees are in fact desegregated, both in policy and use, exclusive of those areas excepted by federal laws and regulations;
 
o   minorities, females, and disabled employees are afforded a full opportunity to participate in PDSC’s educational, training, recreation and social activities; and
 
o   all facilities are accessible to disabled employees or clients.
 
Analysis of PDSC’s Workforce and Job Groups (As of 6/30/12)
 
With a total workforce of 70, PDSC employs 49 females and five people of color (two Hispanic, two Asian and one African-American).
 
PDSC has four job groups: management, professional, paraprofessional, and support staff. The management group has three positions, two of which are filled by females. The professional group has 40 positions, 24 of which are filled by females and three of which are filled by people of color. The paraprofessional group has two positions, one of which is filled by a female. There are 20 positions within the support staff group, 18 of which are filled by females and two of which by persons of color.
 
The agency meets (or is within a fraction of a position) or exceeds goals for women and people of color. The agency’s current workforce does not meet the goal for disabled persons.
 
Goals and Objectives
 
PDSC will pursue the following goals and objectives in order to carry out its affirmative action policy:
 
P Expand employment opportunities for members of protected classes not represented in PDSC’s current workforce.
 
P Increase the distribution of PDSC’s protected class employees at all salary range levels in an effort to approximate the proportion of protected class members in the workforce from which PDSC employs.
 
P Assess minority group and female staffing on an ongoing basis to ensure that PDSC is making progress toward meeting these objectives.
 
P Refine recruitment strategies and hiring practices to facilitate the placement and promotion of minority group and female personnel.
 
P Actively participate on affirmative action committees, organizations and activities to promote PDSC’s Affirmative Action Plan.
 
PDSC’S AFFIRMATIVE ACTION STRATEGIES AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS
 
PDSC is comprised of two divisions: The Appellate Division (AD), which provides direct legal services in the Oregon Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals on behalf of financially eligible individuals appealing trial court judgments of conviction in criminal cases, and trial court judgments in juvenile dependency and termination of parental rights cases; and the Contract and Business Services Division (CBS), which administers the state’s public defense contracting and payment systems.
 
PDSC’s Non-Discrimination and Affirmative Action Plan includes both policies and procedures governing PDSC’s own activities as an employer and strategies for working with the private contractors who provide the great majority of public defense representation in the state to help them attract and retain attorneys and staff that more closely reflect the diversity in their communities.
 
PDSC’s Accomplishments in 2011 - 2013
 
P Attended and made presentations regarding employment in public defense at job fairs and recruitment events at regional events sponsored by minority law student groups and others.
 
P Continued to develop working relationships with law faculty and placement offices at Oregon’s law schools to identify and recruit law students
     of color who might be interested in attorney positions in the state’s public defense system.
 
P Presented a one-day “Elimination of Bias” training for attorneys and staff at the Office of Public Defense Services as well as interested attorneys from the Marion County area, and undertook preparations for a program in 2013.
 
P Participated in the Oregon State Bar’s Convocation on Inequality, and continue to incorporate lessons learned into management practices.
 
P OPDS management team took part in demonstration tests using Project Implicit, a web-based program designed to reveal hidden biases, and had a discussion regarding the test results, and ways that the program could be used in employee education programs.
 
PDSC’s Strategies for 2013- 15
 
P Work with public defense contractors to create more recruitment opportunities, possibly in conjunction with prosecutors, to interest first-year law students and college students in the practice of criminal law.
 
P Work with Affirmative Action office of the Oregon State Bar to identify new strategies for increasing diversity in public defense.
 
P Improve outreach efforts of OPDS to attract more diverse applicants for all job categories in both divisions.
 
P Continue to participate in job fairs and recruitment programs throughout the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere for law students and attorneys of color who may be interested in careers in public defense.
 
P Encourage public defense attorneys to examine the causes of disproportionate representation of minority clients in the criminal justice, juvenile justice and child welfare systems and to identify and implement strategies to address overrepresentation.
 
P Prepare and present an elimination of bias training to OPDS attorneys and staff and other members of the Marion County legal community.
 
PDSC’s Strategies for 2015-21
 
P     The demand for minority attorneys and other legal professionals such as trial assistants and investigators is high in Oregon as it is elsewhere in the country. In order to attract these professionals to public defense work, PDSC needs to be able to offer compensation that is at least comparable to the compensation offered to district attorneys and other government lawyers in the state. In support of this effort PDSC has included in its 2013-2015 budget request policy packages that would help it achieve parity in compensation with prosecution lawyers for its appellate lawyers and for at least some of its private contractors. The achievement of parity may well take more than a single biennium.
 
P     Over the next six years PDSC will develop and present an integrated series of trainings for its own employees designed to address some of the underlying biases and misconceptions that can impair one’s judgment about members of other cultural groups. The agency’s general counsel is well qualified to assist in the development of this series, having served as the trainer for the largest public defense office in the state and having planned and presented many such trainings in the past. The training series will be open to interested contract providers and may be recorded for possible future use by others.
 
P     PDSC intends to continue working with its contractors to obtain reliable data about workforce composition and establish appropriate goals for each year of the next six-year period to expand the number of minority attorneys and staff members employed in public defense in Oregon.
 
P     In anticipation of the difficulty of recruiting successfully from the small group of minority attorneys graduating from Oregon law schools each year, PDSC will work with its contractors to develop strategies for promoting legal careers and, specifically, careers in public defense, among Oregon high school and college students.
 


[1] The Executive Director will appoint as her "designee" for the purposes of PDSC's informal and formal Harassment in the Workplace complaint procedures a PDSC employee who has no management or supervisory responsibilities and who possesses personal characteristics that will not discourage employees' reports of harassment.  All references to "Executive Director" in the informal and formal complaint procedures are meant to include this designee.