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Domestic violence protections for workers

If you experience domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault, or stalking (or if you are a parent or guardian of a victim), your employer must make reasonable changes to support your safety.

This might include: a transfer, reassignment, modified schedule, unpaid leave, changed work phone number, changed work station, installed lock, new safety procedure, or other adjustment after threatened or actual events.

  • You can also take protected leave to find legal or law enforcement assistance, get medical treatment for injuries or mental health support, move or change your living situation, and more.
  • Your employer must keep all documents and information confidential.
  • You can’t be fired, suspended, retaliated or discriminated against in any way because you are a victim.

If you think your employer is violating this law, you can make a complaint or contact us to get help.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, you are not alone. There are resources available to you. If you are concerned your computer might be monitored, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

The law

ORS 659A.280 to 659A.290

Frequently asked questions

For workers

What protection do these laws provide?

All employers are required to provide reasonable safety accommodations to workers. Employers with 6 or more employees are also required to allow an eligible employee to take reasonable leave from employment for any of the following purposes:

  1. To seek legal or law enforcement assistance or remedies to ensure the health and safety of the employee or the employee’s minor child or dependent, including preparing for and participating in protective order proceedings or other civil or criminal legal proceedings related to domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault or stalking.
  2. To seek medical treatment for or to recover from injuries caused by domestic violence or sexual assault to or harassment or stalking of the eligible employee or the employee’s minor child or dependent.
  3. To obtain, or to assist a minor child or dependent in obtaining, counseling from a licensed mental health professional related to an experience of domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault or stalking.
  4. To obtain services from a victim services provider for the eligible employee or the employee’s minor child or dependent.
  5. To relocate or take steps to secure an existing home to ensure the health and safety of the eligible employee or the employee’s minor child or dependent.
Which employees are protected under these laws?

Any employee who is a victim of or at risk of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking is covered by the law, regardless of how long he or she has worked for the employer and regardless of how many hours per week the employee works.

What if my employer asks me for certification that I am a victim of domestic violence?

An employer has the right to ask the victim for certification that the employee is a victim. Unless otherwise required by law, any documents provided as certification of the victim’s status must be kept confidential and may not be released without your express permission.

What types of documentation are allowed?

Certification can be a document from law enforcement or the courts, such as a police report or restraining order, a letter or other document from an attorney, counselor, domestic violence or sexual assault victim service provider, health care professional, or clergy member. Any of these forms of documentation is sufficient.

What are examples of "reasonable safety accommodations"?

Examples of a safety accommodation might include a transfer, reassignment, modified schedule, unpaid leave from employment, changed work telephone number, changed work station, installed lock, change in office policy, or any other adjustment to a job structure, workplace facility, or work requirement in response to actual or threatened domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

An employer must grant a request for a reasonable safety accommodation unless it would impose an "undue hardship" on the employer.

What is "reasonable leave"?

It depends. The leave must be for one of the qualifying reasons described above, but the employer may limit the amount of leave an eligible employee takes if the employee’s leave creates an undue hardship on the employer’s business.

What would be an "undue hardship" for an employer?

"Undue hardship" means a significant difficulty and expense to an employer's business and includes consideration of the size of the employer's business. Other factors to consider in determining whether granting a safety accommodation will cause an undue hardship on an employer's business include, but are not limited to:

  • The safety accommodation requested and the relative cost to an employer's business;
  • The overall financial resources of the employer's facility or facilities, the number of persons employed at the facility and the effect on expenses and resources or other impacts on the operation of the facility if the safety accommodation were granted;
  • The overall financial resources of the employer, the overall size of the business of the employer with respect to the number of its employees and the number, type and location of the employer's facilities;
  • The type of operations conducted by the employer, including the composition, structure and functions of the employer's workforce.

For employers

All Oregon employers are required to provide reasonable safety accommodations to employees who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking (DVSAS). It is an unlawful employment practice for any Oregon employer to discriminate against an individual in hiring or any other employment decision because the individual is a victim of DVSAS.

Which employees are covered by this law?

Any employee who is a victim of or at risk of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking is covered by the law, regardless of how long he or she has worked for the employer and regardless of how many hours per week the employee works.

How does the employer know if the employee is a victim?

An employer may grant an employee a safety accommodation based on the employee’s statement that he or she is a victim. However, the employer has the right to ask the victim for certification that the employee is a victim. Unless otherwise required by law, any documents provided as certification of the victim’s status must be kept confidential and may not be released without the express permission of the employee.

What sorts of documentation may the employee provide?

Certification can be a document from law enforcement or the courts, such as a police report or restraining order, a letter or other document from an attorney, counselor, domestic violence or sexual assault victim service provider, health care professional, or clergy member. Any of these forms of documentation is sufficient. Remember that any form submitted as certification of the victim’s status must be kept confidential.

What conduct constitutes unlawful discrimination under the law?

Under ORS 659A.290, it is against the law for any employer to:

  • Refuse to hire an otherwise qualified individual because they are a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking;
  • Fire, threaten to fire, demote, suspend, or retaliate against a worker because they are a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking; or
  • Refuse to make a reasonable safety accommodation, or retaliate against a person who asks for a reasonable safety accommodation.
What is a “reasonable safety accommodation”?

An employee who is a victim may request a reasonable safety accommodation to allow the employee to more safely continue to work. For instance, a safety accommodation might be a transfer, reassignment, modified schedule, unpaid leave from employment, changed work telephone number, changed work station, installed lock, change in office policy, or any other adjustment to a job structure, workplace facility, or work requirement in response to actual or threatened domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

An employer must grant a request for a reasonable safety accommodation unless it would impose an "undue hardship" on the employer.

What if the accommodation request would impose an "undue hardship" on the employer?

An undue hardship is something that would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer. In determining whether something requires a significant difficulty or expense, many factors are considered, including the size and resources of the employer, the type of business operated by the employer, and the number, type and location of the employer’s facilities. These factors will be balanced against the nature and cost of the accommodation requested.

If the request would impose an undue hardship on the employer, the employer need not provide the accommodation. In this case, the employer should work with the employee to determine if there are other less burdensome methods of achieving the employee’s goal.

How does the employer know if the accommodation requested is the safest option for the victim?

Because the victim knows the circumstances of his or her situation, he or she is usually best able to determine both what threats to safety exist as well as what steps can be taken to increase safety. Thus, when a victim employee makes a request for a reasonable safety accommodation, the employer should rely on the victim’s judgment.

What penalties apply to employers for violations of the discrimination or reasonable accommodation protections?

The statute makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate against or to deny a reasonable safety accommodation to any employee who is a victim. Employees who believe the employer has violated the law may file a complaint with the Bureau of Labor and Industries or file a civil action at any time within one year of the illegal act. BOLI, or a court, may order injunctive relief and other equitable relief, including reinstatement, back pay, etc.




Disclaimer: This website is not intended as legal advice. Any responses to specific questions are based on the facts as we understand them and the law that was current when the responses were written. They are not intended to apply to any other situations. This communication is not an agency order. If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney.​


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