House Bill 3256, passed by the 2009 Oregon Legislature, creates employment protections for uniformed service members employed by both public and private employers and prohibits discrimination based upon an employee’s uniformed service. The new law becomes effective January 1, 2010.
Q. Which types of employers are covered?
A. HB 3256 expands the status and rights provided to public sector employees to private employees. Currently, under ORS 408.240 to 408.280 and 408.290, if the employer is a public body, discrimination against a public officer or public employee because of uniformed service is unlawful.
This statute is consistent with similar provisions of the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994.
Q. Who is protected as a uniformed service member?
A. Service means the performance of duty on a voluntary or involuntary basis in a uniformed service that may involve active duty, active duty for training, initial active duty for training, inactive duty for training, full-time duty in the National Guard, funeral honors duty or an examination to determine fitness for service in a uniformed service.
The uniformed services are the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, National Guard or military reserve forces.
Q. What are the prohibitions in this law, and what penalties apply to employers for non-compliance?
A. It is an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate during the initial employment decision, reemployment following a leave from employment taken by reason of service in a uniformed service, retention in employment, promotion, or any other term, condition or privilege of employment, including but not limited to compensation. Discharging, expelling, disciplining, threatening or otherwise retaliating against the person for exercising or attempting to exercise the status or rights provided by this statute also constitutes an unlawful practice.
Employees who believe their employer has violated the law are authorized to file a complaint with the Civil Rights Division of the Bureau of Labor and Industries. The employee may, if they prefer, file a civil action.
Q. Are there any exceptions to the statute?
A. An employer does not commit an unlawful employment practice if the employer acted based on a bona fide occupational requirement reasonably necessary to the normal operation of the employer’s business and the employer’s actions could not be avoided by making a reasonable accommodation of the person’s uniformed service.
Q: What other employment protections exist for service members?
A number of other provisions exist to protect service members and their spouses in employment. Many of these laws were passed by the 2009 Legislature and will take effect January 1, 2010.
FAQs on each of the following topics can be found on BOLI’s main FAQ page: service members’ employment rights, service members’ spouses’ employment rights, and veteran’s hiring preference for public employers.
Nothing on this website is intended as legal advice. Any responses to specific questions are based on the facts as we understand them, and not intended to apply to any other situations. This communication is not an agency order. If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney. We attempt to update the information on this website as soon as practicable following changes or developments in the laws and rules affecting Oregon employers, but we make no warranties or representations, express or implied, about whether the information provided is current. We urge you to check the applicable statutes and administrative rules yourself and to consult with legal counsel prior to taking action that may invoke employee rights or employer responsibilities or omitting to act when required by law to act.
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