Oregon Wage and Hour Laws
Our clients across the country have successfully relied on our in-depth knowledge and extensive experience in wage and hour law to make significant decisions that have advanced their rights, goals, and needs. Dolley Law attorneys understand and endeavor to stay abreast of developments within the vast network of wage and hour rules and requirements in the United States. With this understanding and effort, we can help you pursue or defend your rights. Contact us today to see if we can provide you the legal representation you need with your wage and hour matter.
Oregon Minimum Wage
Oregon public policy provides “that no person shall be hired, nor permitted to work for wages, under any conditions or terms, for longer hours or days of service than is consistent with the person’s health and physical well-being and ability to promote the general welfare by the person’s increasing usefulness as a healthy and intelligent citizen.” See ORS 652.010. It further provides for “minimum wage standards for workers at levels consistent with their health, efficiency and general well-being.” See ORS 653.015.
Per this policy, Oregon law schedules its minimum rate rates to increase each year by adjusting annually for inflation; however, unlike other states with similar increasing rate schedules, Oregon law provides for different wage rates to apply in different types of areas (e.g., Portland metropolitan area, non-urban areas, etc.). See ORS 653.025. Currently, as of July 1, 2020, the minimum wage rates in Oregon vary, depending on the area, between $11.50 and $13.25 per hour, all of which are significantly higher than the federal rate of $7.25 per hour. See id.; 29 U.S.C. § 206.
Additional rules regarding the payment of minimum wages in Oregon can be found in the state’s administrative code of regulations. See, e.g., OAR 839-020-0010, et seq.
Oregon has its own rules and requirements specific to the payment of overtime. See ORS 653.261. By law, Oregon directs its Commissioner of the Labor Bureau to adopt overtime rules consistent with certain principles enumerated in the statute. Id. These rules are largely contained in Oregon’s administrative code of regulations. See OAR 839-020-0004, et seq. These rules are unique and differ from those of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) in many respects.
For example, Oregon has its own particular rules regarding the nature and scope of common overtime exemptions like the executive, professional, and administrative exemptions. See, e.g., OAR 839-020-0005. Nonetheless, Oregon overtime law mirrors the FLSA in significant respects; both laws require payment of overtime premium pay at a rate of time-and-a-half for all hours worked in excess of 40 in a given workweek. See OAR 839-020-0030. Compared to many other state laws, Oregon has a fairly extensive regulatory framework that addresses many issues covered also by the FLSA, such as the definition of “hours worked,” management’s role in ensuring compliance with overtime pay requirements, and the compensability of time spent traveling, waiting, and on-call. See, e.g., OAR 839-020-0040, -0041, -0045.
Nonetheless, whenever there is a conflict or inconsistency between federal and state requirements, Oregon regulation provides that the employer must follow the more stringent requirements. See OAR 839-020-0115. In this vein, Oregon regulation states, in relevant part: “[w]hen one set of standards differs from the other, the standards most advantageous to employees must be met. For example, when the state minimum wage requires a higher hourly rate to be paid than the federal minimum wage rate, the state rate must be paid. By paying the higher rate, the employer complies with both standards. Another example is when the employer may qualify for an exemption under the state law but not the federal law. In this case, the employer is required to comply with the federal law.” Id.
Meal and Rest Breaks
Oregon regulations address, in detail, the rules and requirements regarding the provision of meal and rest periods to employees during the workday. See OAR 839-020-0050. These regulations generally provide that “every employer shall provide to each employee, for each work period of not less than six or more than eight hours, a meal period of not less than 30 continuous minutes during which the employee is relieved of all duties.” Id. The rule further states that “if an employee is not relieved of all duties for 30 continuous minutes during the meal period, the employer must pay the employee for the entire 30-minute meal period.” Id. Nonetheless, the regulation then provides for a series of potential exceptions to this general rule, including but not limited to undue hardship on the employer. Id.
With regard to rest breaks, Oregon regulation generally provides that “every employer shall provide to each employee, for each segment of four hours or major part thereof worked in a work period, a rest period of not less than ten continuous minutes during which the employee is relieved of all duties, without deduction from the employee’s pay.” Id. The regulation further stresses that “rest periods [are] in addition to and taken separately from the time provided for a meal period.” Id.
Oregon regulations also provide rules regarding the obligation of employers to provide employees who need to express breast milk for children under 18 months with reasonable rest periods to do so. See OAR 839-020-0051.
Like many other states, Oregon has laws regarding the timing of wage payments to employees. Oregon law provides, in relevant part: “[e]very employer shall establish and maintain a regular payday, at which date the employer shall pay all employees the wages due and owing to them.” ORS 652.120. Wage paydays may not extend beyond a period of 35 days from the time that the employees entered upon their work, or from the date of the last regular payday.” Id.
Oregon law also provides specific rules and remedies for wage disputes at the end of an employee’s employment. See ORS 652.140. The contours of these rules and remedies depend on a few things, such as the voluntary or involuntary nature of the termination, whether an employment contract or agreed-upon term exists, and whether notice was provided. See id. Under Oregon regulations, “[a]n employee may use all remedies available to the employee [to recover] the balance of wages that the employee claims re due and payable.” OAR 839-001-0460. Subject to some exceptions and conditions, Oregon law generally provides employees with a right to collect attorney fees if they prevail in an action to collect wages due and owing to them. See ORS 652.200.
Oregon has a unique pay discrimination law that offers greater coverage and protection for employees than that provided by the FLSA or most other state laws. See ORS 652.220. The FLSA and many states have anti-discrimination laws that prohibit pay differences based on sex. See 29 U.S.C. § 206(d). Oregon, however, has an anti-discrimination law that prohibits pay differences based on any protected class, including but not limited to sex. See ORS 652.210, 652.220. Under Oregon law, a “protected class” may be any one of the following: race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, veteran status, disability, or age. Id.
Violation of Oregon’s pay anti-discrimination law can result in a civil action by an employee or group of employees. See ORS 652.230. If an employee prevails in such an action, he or she may recover “unpaid wages to which the employee is entitled for the one-year period preceding” the suit, along with an additional equal amount as liquidated damages. Id. Further, the court must award the prevailing employee his or her reasonably attorney fees. Id. On the other hand, if an employee does not prevail, and the prevailing employer can convince the court that the plaintiff had no objectively reasonable basis for asserting a claim, the court may award attorney fees and expert witness fees to the employer. Id. These pay anti-discrimination claims in Oregon are subject to a one-year statute of limitations. Id.
Wage and hour disputes or issues require the assistance of skilled legal counsel. We have the skills and experience to help you successfully navigate virtually any wage and hour matter. If you are in or around Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Lane, Marion, Jackson, Deschutes, Linn, Douglas, or Yamhill counties, do not hesitate to call us by phone today at (314) 645-4100 or contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss in further detail whether we can provide you the legal representation you need.