Rebecca Watkins

Upcoming Work Sessions for Oregon Employers

rebecca watkinsThe Oregon Employment Department and various workforce groups are hosting forums throughout the state in March and April to gather employer input. The goal is to determine what state-wide and local needs exist and how best to deliver state resources. Here are the upcoming dates: March 18 @ Seaside, OR March 19 @ Florence, OR March 20 @ Salem, OR April 3 @ Wilsonville, OR April 9 @ LaGrande, OR April 14 @ Medford, OR April 16 @ Redmond, OR April 22 @ Eugene, OR Worksystems, Inc. is partnering with other local workforce investment boards and the Oregon Employment Department in hosting a series of strategy sessions across Oregon to identify how the state’s workforce system can be… Continue reading

Proposed BOLI Rules

rebecca watkinsBOLI is currently proposing and taking input regarding several changes to Oregon employment regulations. Among the many newly proposed rules are the following: *Clarifications to disability regulations *Clarifications of “health care provider” and “victim” under the Oregon Family Leave Act laws *Extension of OFLA leave for death of family member *New OFLA posting requirements *Extension of employee protections to interns *Discrimination protections applicable to career schools *Extension of whistleblower protection to reports of election law violations *Clarification of meal period requirements for nonexempt workers *Allowing final paycheck to be paid by direct deposit *Limits to employer access to social media Employers interested in learning more should visit Public comments are… Continue reading

Loophole in Exclusive Remedy Protections Fixed

rebecca watkinsThe Oregon legislature passed SB 678, amending ORS 656.018 to include limited liability partners, partners, general partners, limited partners, and limited liaibility company members to the list of persons entitled to immunity for providing workers’ compensation coverage to employees. This legislation arose in response to a decision by the Oregon Court of Appeals last year that a member of a LLC did not have statutory immunity because the statute did not expressly include them in the list of persons entitled to immunity. The decision in Cortez v Nacco Materials Handling Group, Inc. highlighted several categories of persons with exposure to civil suit for work-related injuries. In response, the legislature moved quickly to amend the statute to include… Continue reading

Do I have to pre-approve a referral or treatment request?

rebecca watkinsWe are seeing more requests to pre-authorize referrals or treatment other than elective surgery. When no pre-authorization is given, claimants or medical providers file medical disputes with the WCD. However, the administrative rules do not require such pre-approval. In a recent dispute before the Medical Review Unit, SBH confronted this issue and successfully convinced the MRU that pre-authorization was not necessary for a referral to a specialist. The MRU order states: “While the director appreciates [the doctor] would prefer there be authorization for the referral to a knee specialist prior to making the referral, (assumedly for guarantee of payment), authorization by the insurer is not mandated by statute or rule.” Admin. Order of Dismissal, WCD… Continue reading

Oregon Employer Council – State Conference for Business

rebecca watkinsEmployers, HR managers, & Business Owners – The Oregon Employer Council is holding its annual State Conference for Business on May 6th & 7th on the Oregon Coast (Salishan). This will include keynote speakers such as the NOAA, which has its Marine Operations Center-Pacific in Newport, exhibit booths for businesses throughout Oregon, and breakout sessions on wide-ranging topics from employer immunity to workplace culture to legislative updates. Approved for 21.25 HCRI credits. Go to this link to view the agenda or register. I will be presenting on: Employer Immunity: When it Applies and Practices that Jeopardize it. I hope to see you there. Contact me with any questions at:  

Court Less Likely to Find Parking Lot Injuries Compensable?

rebecca watkinsIn Enterprise Rent-A-Car v Frazer, a divided Court of Appeals reversed the WCB’s finding of compensability in a parking lot injury. The employer at issue had a storefront in a strip mall, including several parking spots its rental cars occupied. It had two break rooms, but employees were allowed to leave the premises at breaks. Frazier, the worker, took a paid break in a smoking hut on the strip mall property about 100 feet from her workplace; the smoking hut was not owned or controlled by the employer. During the break, she vented with coworkers about customers and smoked a cigarette. As she returned to her workplace, she caught her foot in a hole in… Continue reading

Discriminatory practices or just claims increasing?

According to MSNBC reports, the EEOC received a record 99,947 job-related discrimination complaints in 2011. The largest increase is in the area of religious discrimination, with increases in national origin and disability complaints as well. This shifting pattern of complaints may reflect a growing diversity in the work force. The overall increase may be a side effect of a poor economy, which means a high number of complaints can be expected for 2012 as well. The EEOC has faced budget cuts in the past year, and with the increase of complaints may shift its focus to widespread problems or be more interested in settlement. For an historic overview of EEOC complaints from 1997 to present,… Continue reading

Oregon Minimum Wage increases to $8.95 for 2013

BOLI announced today that Oregon’s minimum wage will increase 15 cents to $8.95 per hour on January 1, 2013. Oregon law requires the state minimum wage to be adjusted each year based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), and the new minimum wage reflects a CPI increase of 1.7%.

Are actors and acting instructors employees or independent contractors for purposes of workers’ compensation?

rebecca watkinsMaybe. In a recent case, SAIF Corp v. DCBS and Northwest Children’s Theater and School, the Oregon Court of Appeals discussed the legal framework a theater company must evaluate to determine if its actors and instructors are workers for whom it must obtain workers’ compensation coverage. Northwest Children’s Theater (NWCT) operates an acting school. It obtained workers’ compensation coverage through SAIF Corporation for its employees but not for actors, instructors, and production designers, which NWCT considered independent contractors. SAIF indicated workers’ compensation coverage needed to be obtained for all of these workers. The dispute came before the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS), which found that NWCT instructors, actors, and production designers were not… Continue reading

Wal-Mart Pays the Cost of Misclassifying Employees

rebecca watkinsThe Department of Labor announced today that it has settled a nationwide overtime claim with Wal-Mart. Prior to 2007, the large retail chain misclassified certain vision center managers and security personnel as exempt, which meant these individuals were not paid overtime. After years of negotiation, Wal-Mart has agreed to pay $4,828,442 to approximately 4,500 employees and pay a civil penalty of $463,815. Although most companies are not as large as Wal-Mart, two important lessons can be learned from this settlement. First, an employer must look beyond job titles. Calling an employee a “manager” does not make an employee exempt if job duties do not meet FLSA standards. Second, misclassifications usually impact a group of employees, exponentially increasing the cost of… Continue reading