The Oregon legislature adjourned June 28, 2007, after passing numerous employment-related bills that will have a significant impact on employers doing business in the state of Oregon. Of particular interest are the following bills, all of which become effective Jan. 1, 2008:

Arbitration and Non-Competition Agreements (Senate Bill 248): This bill amends ORS 36.620 and voids an arbitration agreement between an employer and an employee unless the employer notifies the employee at least two weeks prior to the beginning of employment that the employee will be required to enter into an arbitration agreement. The arbitration agreement may be entered into upon a subsequent bona fide advancement in employment.

The bill also amends ORS 653.295 and makes non-competition agreements voidable unless the employer provides at least two weeks advance notice prior to the beginning of employment that a non-competition agreement will be required. The agreement may be a condition of a subsequent bona fide advancement. Additionally, only certain employees can be required to enter into non-competition agreements, and any such agreement will be valid for no more than two years following termination of employment. The bill applies to arbitration and non-competition agreements entered into on or after its effective date.

Sexual Orientation Discrimination (Senate Bill 2): Employers will be prohibited from discriminating in employment on the basis of an individual’s sexual orientation.

Nursing Mothers (House Bill 2372): Employers with 25 or more employees will be required to provide no more than 30 minutes’ unpaid rest time for every four hours worked to a female employee who needs to express milk for her child, upon reasonable notice from the employee of the need for such rest time. This rest period is preferably to be taken at the same time as rest or meal periods otherwise provided to the employee.

Family Leave (House Bill 2460): This bill redefines leave under the Oregon Family Medical Leave Act to exclude leave taken by an employee who is unable to work because of a “disabling compensable injury” under Oregon's worker's compensation law. Similarly, an employer may not reduce the amount of family leave available to an employee by any period the employee is unable to work because of a disabling compensable injury.

(House Bill 2635): This bill expands the definition of “family member” to include grandparent or grandchild for purposes of a leave of absence under the Oregon Family Leave Act.

(House Bill 2485): This bill allows eligible employees to use accrued paid sick leave for a leave under the Oregon Family Leave Act.

Personnel Records (House Bill 2254): An employer will now be required to furnish or make available for inspection a certified copy of an employee’s personnel records within 45 days after receipt of an employee’s request to inspect such records.

Meal Periods (Senate Bill 403): This bill amends ORS 653.261, allowing the Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries to adopt rules permitting employees who serve food or beverages and who receive tips and report the tips to their employers to waive a meal period.

Wage-Related Discrimination (House Bill 2255): This bill makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate against an employee for taking a wage-related action against the employer, and grants the allegedly aggrieved employee the option to file a claim with the Bureau of Labor and Industries.