Rebecca Watkins

Join SBH at the Oregon/SW Washington DMEC Annual Chapter Meeting

rebecca_watkinsJoin me and a great line up of speakers and topics next Wednesday, September 16th, at the Oregon/SW Washington DMEC annual chapter meeting. Chet Nakada of BOLI will discuss State Sick Leave. Tim Kessel of DCBS will discuss the Preferred Worker Program and EAIP. Rob Bovett will discuss marijuana in the workplace. And keynote speaker Justin Parker will discuss strategies for engaging employees with early return to work. Register at (2015 Chapter Mtg: Oregon)

A Disabled Employee is no Longer Qualified for Job When He Makes Threats

rebecca_watkinsIn Mayo v PCC Structurals, Inc. (July 28, 2015), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed that an employee who makes threats of violence against co-workers can be terminated without violating the ADA or Oregon’s disability law. A few employees, including Mayo, began to have problems with a supervisor. HR investigated the complaints and shortly after meeting with HR, Mayo made comments to several coworkers about wanting to blow the heads off the supervisor and another manager. These comments were eventually reported to HR, who then met with Mayo. When asked if he planned to carry out his threats, he responded that he couldn’t guarantee that he wouldn’t. Mayo was immediately suspended and banned from… Continue reading

Registration now open for OEC fall conference.

rebecca_watkinsThe Fall OEC conference will take place October 5th & 6th at Spirit Mountain Casino. Programming includes training on wage and hour, safety rules, employee retention, LGBT issues in the workplace, and a panel on Workforce Issues with participants from BOLI, Community Colleges and Workforce Developmant, and the Oregon Employment Department. Jeanne Atkins, Oregon’s new Secretary of State, will also be speaking. Early bird registration has begun via eventbrite: The Oregon Employment Council is a nonprofit, employer-centered organization focues on partnerships between Oregon businesses and government agencies. All Oregon businesses can join and have a voice in local resources. If you want to learn more about the OEC, check out its website at  

Oregon Enacts Paid Sick Time Law

rebecca_watkinsGovernor Brown signed HB 454 into law on June 22, 2015, making Oregon the fourth state to pass a state wide paid sick leave statute. The law goes into effect on January 1, 2016 and will preempt the Portland and Eugene city laws. Under Oregon’s law, employers will be obligated to provide all employees with up to 40 hours of sick leave time. With a few exceptions, employers with 10+ employees, will have to provide paid sick leave time. (A notable carve out in the law exempts certain construction trade union employees.) Sick time can be used for the employee’s or the employee’s family members’ illness, doctor visits, public health emergencies, or any reason allowed under… Continue reading

Eugene Sick Leave Ordinance Scheduled to Go Into Effect on July 1, 2015 Postponed

rebecca_watkinsThe City of Eugene passed a sick leave law last July that was originally scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2015. This law (similar to one in Portland) requires employers to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave to employees who work in Eugene. The law expressly excludes employees in building/construction industries who are covered by collective bargaining agreements. Sick time accrual will begin January 1, 2016 or at hire, whichever is later. Employees accrue 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours. A PTO policy that provides equal or greater benefits meets the requirements of this law. The… Continue reading

OSHA issues guidance on transgender bathrooms

rebecca_watkinsOn June 1st, OSHA issued a new guide for employers regarding restroom access for transgender employees. The guide falls under OSHA’s sanitation standard that requires employers to provide toilet facilities – a standard that recognizes adverse health effects from the lack of such facilities. OSHA set out a model practice that would protect all employees’ access to prompt and appropriate facilities, based on a belief that employees should have the ability to use facilities corresponding to their gender identity. OSHA instructs that employees should not have to use a special facility apart from options available to other employees because of their gender identity. Employees also should not be asked to “prove” their gender identity. The… Continue reading

Court of Appeals clarifies compensability analysis for medical services.

rebecca_watkinsBy: Rebecca Watkins This month, SBH received favorable decisions from the Court of Appeals in two cases addressing compensability of medical services under ORS 656.245(1). In Vukasin v Liberty NW (May 13, 2015), the worker had a 2000 ankle injury with several accepted and denied conditions. In 2009, she had surgery that addressed, in part, synovitis and peroneal tendonitis, both diagnoses that had been accepted under the previous claim. Vukasin argued that because these were accepted conditions, the Board had no choice but to find the surgery compensable – it lacked authority to find they had resolved. The Court of Appeals disagreed and held the Board could find on the record that the prior synovitis and peroneal… Continue reading

Highest State Court finds PERS reform unconstitutional

rebecca_watkins By: Rebecca Watkins In a decision issued April 30th, the Oregon Supreme Court struck down a key provision of 2013 legislation concerning the Public Employees Retirement System. The legislature reduced cost of living adjustments (COLA) for current PERS retirees to cut costs. In a decision that many predicted, the Court held that the legislature could not rescind a promise already made to retirees – to do so would violate the Contract Clause of the state constitution. It did note that prospective changes to COLA (for employment after the date of the legislative change) was allowed. In reaching its unanimous decision, the Court rejected arguments that an important public purpose (cost savings) justified the change. It… Continue reading

Join SBH at the WCCA Spring Education Conference

rebecca_watkinsBy: Rebecca Watkins Come join us Tuesday April 14, 2015 in Wilsonville for the WCCA Spring Education Conference. Presenters will cover topics such as investigations, job description, chronic pain therapies, and common orthopedic injuries. Kevin Anderson and I will be presenting with Sheri Sundstrom from Hoffman Construction regarding the recent changes in claim closure and combined conditions due to the Brown and Schleiss cases. We will review the WCD’s new claim closure and apportionment rules, discuss recent case decisions, and provide some insight into what the legislature might do this session. Feel free to contact us with any questions, or bring them to conference too! The deadline to register for the event is Tuesday, April 7. … Continue reading

DMEC Quarterly Roundtable Tomorrow

By: Rebecca Watkins rebecca watkins Do FMLA & ADA issues frustrate you? DMEC hosts quarterly roundtables for employers and HR professionals to come together and discuss the tricky aspects of employee leave and accommodation. Join us tomorrow! The roundtable takes place at Kaiser Permanente Town Hall on January 14th from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Register for free at Lunch is provided.