The northwestern state of Oregon is home to around 3.8 million people, per a 2008 census. The state supports numerous agricultural industries, educational institutions, and timber and mining businesses. OR’s largest city, Portland, serves as a gateway for trade between the U.S. and Japan and China. The state’s diverse geology and climate patterns support hazelnut, apple, and potato farming as well as over 300 wineries.
Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) handles employment claims regarding matters such as:
- Discrimination. The Oregon workforce includes individuals of various races, religions, national origins, family statuses, and abilities. Under state and federal laws, these employees have the right to fair and equitable treatment throughout their careers. This includes nondiscriminatory hiring practices, as well as accommodations on the job (when needed) to help them perform their work.
- Harassment. In a professional environment, no worker should feel uncomfortable due to the inappropriate behavior or language of others. Whether sexual harassment comes from management or another colleague, employers assume responsibility, and victims can seek sanctions and compensation.
- Retaliation. When an employee believes an employer has violated his or her legal rights, he or she may pursue certain actions – either within or outside the company – to restore those rights. The employer may not respond to such measures with punitive treatment, such as demotions, layoffs, or assigning less desirable work duties.
The BOLI was established over a century ago by an act of the state’s legislature. Today, it maintains offices in the state capital, Salem, as well as in Eugene, Medford, Bend, Portland, and Pendleton. The BOLI supports a Wage and Hour Division, a Civil Rights Division, an apprenticeship program, and a “technical assistance for employers” program. Per the bureau’s web site, the agency has 4 distinct primary obligations:
- To ensure that Oregonians receive equal treatment and are not discriminated against in the domains of public housing and the workplace.
- To encourage employers to comply with Oregon laws about terms and conditions and wage and hour restrictions; and to enforce those laws, if necessary.
- To teach employers about wage and hour limits and civil rights, to avoid discrimination problems in the future.
- To assist the Oregonian work force with apprenticeship programs, training modules, and other partnerships, so these workers can stay competitive, safe, and healthy.
Oregon has won a reputation as relatively labor-friendly state, thanks to its comprehensive anti-discrimination laws and progressive attitude towards worker treatment. That said, some Oregon employers -- particularly those brought up in other, more patriarchal cultures (such as China and Japan) -- may not be aware of certain labor laws, particularly those concerning gender discrimination and harassment.
If you believe that your boss or company has mistreated you or a coworker, you don’t have to sit back and accept your circumstances. An Oregon attorney with experience in labor laws and regulations can examine your situation and determine your legal options. Contact a legal professional today to obtain an assessment of your discrimination or harassment claim.