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Salem Employment Law Blog

What are reasonable accommodations for a disability?

If you are looking for work in Oregon, you do not have to disclose your disability during the hiring process, and you may prefer to keep it to yourself if you are able. After all, you have likely had experiences where people make unfair judgements or discriminate against you when they learn of your medical issue. On the other hand, your disability may be obvious, for example, if you use a wheelchair or have a visual impairment.

Even if you are well qualified for a position you are seeking, you may worry that your future employer will be unwilling to make the accommodations you require to do the job successfully. It is important to understand your rights and protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Did your boss ask you for a "favor" in exchange for something?

It used to be fairly commonplace to hear stories of a woman's boss wanting sexual favors in exchange for something such as a promotion or a raise. Hollywood starlets believed the "casting couch" was just the way directors and producers handed out parts in movies. Then, just as it is now, this behavior is quid pro quo sexual harassment. The Latin translates to "something for something." In the workplace, this has most often meant sex for [insert what you want here].

Now, in a society in which men and women are on more equal footing than in the past, it may be a female boss requesting sexual favors from a male employee. In fact, the parties involved don't even have to be of the opposite sex. No matter whom the parties involved are, this form of sexual harassment violates federal and Oregon laws regarding sexual harassment.

Protecting whistleblowers from retaliation

There may come a time when you need to report your employer for certain types of inappropriate activities. This is called whistleblowing, and it can have various financial and legal repercussions.

Employees are often afraid to speak out over fear of retaliation, like losing their jobs and perhaps legal action. However, if you believe you have grounds to report your employer, supervisor or another individual for wrongdoing, the law is on your side. As a whistleblower, you have certain rights.

Know your rights as an employee in Oregon

If you are an employee in Oregon, you will likely find comfort in knowing that there are state and federal laws in place that serve to protect your rights as a worker. The Department of Labor and such agencies as the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission govern and supervise the various protections. Sadly, illegal employment practices continue to occur.

The Department of Labor governs approximately 180 employee protection laws, including workplace safety, fair hiring and promotions, parental leave, pay requirements, and more. Gaining knowledge about the fundamental employee rights might help you to make sure your boss does not violate your rights.

Unequal pay could be a form of workplace discrimination

Oregon workers know they have the right to a workplace that is free from harassment and discrimination of all kinds. If you work in an environment that is inappropriate or hostile, you have the right to speak up and take action to make the negative treatment stop. However, it can be helpful to remember discrimination does not always come in the form of harassing words or actions.

In many cases, unequal pay is a form of discrimination. There are state and federal laws in place intended to prevent unfair wage practices, but they still happen. Workers who are not paid fairly or believe their employer is practicing any type of unfair treatment can fight for their rights. If you believe you are a victim of unequal pay for equal work, you have the right to speak out. 

Facing workplace problems regarding equal pay laws?

If you work in an Oregon office or company where men and women work side-by-side, you may notice various challenges arising from time to time. For instance, it's not all that uncommon for jokes or comments to get out of hand, leading to employee complaints about unfair treatment in the workplace. Concerning your wages, however, your gender should not come into play when determining pay scale. Instead, your employer should offer equal pay for equal jobs.

Job title and job content are two different things. One names a position where the other describes duties a particular person holding a certain title regularly carries out in the normal course of his or her work week. Perhaps you have noticed that some people who do jobs very similar to your own are making more money at it than you. If you have also noticed that those making the most money are the opposite gender from you, you might have an employment law problem on your hands.

Was discrimination the reason your boss did not promote you?

Like most workers in Oregon and beyond, you understand that there's basically no such thing as a perfect workplace. You've worked for several different employers throughout your career and can probably list pros and cons about each experience. Since you've been working at the same company for quite a while now, you thought things were going as well as can be expected, that is, until you began noticing several issues that raised concerns about possible workplace discrimination.

When your boss recently bypassed you for a big promotion (one that you and your colleagues assumed you were first in line to receive) it raised your suspicions even further as to whether there might be more than meets the eye at play. Proving workplace discrimination can be quite a challenge but is very possible if you know your rights and where to seek support to fight your battles.

What does Title VII say about color or race discrimination?

No one should feel denied the right to work based on superficial factors such as race and skin color. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from doing just that. Sounds good, right? Well, this may be one of the most misunderstood parts of Title VII.

Many people believe that the protections against race or color discrimination provided by Title VII are limited to race such as African American, Mexican American and Asian American, among others. However, that isn't the whole story.

Harassed in the workplace? You do not have to suffer in silence.

When an Oregon employee faces harassment in the workplace, he or she may feel embarrassed or confused about that happened. Often, victims of mistreatment fail to reach out for help and support because they fear retaliation from their employer or are unsure if what they experienced actually qualifies as harassment.

If you believe that you experienced harassment in the workplace that is sexual in nature or due to your religious beliefs, sexual orientation or other factor, you do not have to stay silent. You have the right to speak out, and with help, you may be able to hold liable parties accountable for what you experienced.

Caregivers not given much respect in the workplace

You may prefer not to talk about your home life while you're at work, especially if that life includes caring for an elderly parent or a disabled child. What you may not know is that there are likely others in your workplace who are going through the same thing, holding down a job while providing essential care to a loved one. Some surveys report that over 20 percent of workers over the age of 45 are also caregivers.

It is a labor of love, and while you certainly have your moments of frustration and impatience, you know this is the best situation for your loved one, and you are glad to help. However, your employer may not feel so generous. In fact, the reason many keep their status as caregivers secret at work is because they fear workplace discrimination.

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