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|Articles - March 2013|
|Monday, February 25, 2013|
BY SUSAN K. EGGUM
Following the reelection of President Obama, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) formally approved a Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) for the next four years that will rock the world of employers that have class-wide practices that discriminate against protected workers. In addition to publicly encouraging protected workers to initiate a claim with the EEOC, the agency will also search for and initiate investigations of employers across the nation.
Among other issues, the EEOC plans to target employers with employment practices or policies that display a bias based on sexual orientation. The agency plans to follow recent federal circuit court interpretations of the scope of Title VII in search of employers that overtly or covertly discriminate in any unlawful way against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees. The EEOC’s scope will include individual managers and the entity for which the manager works.
In December 2008, just a few months before President Obama selected EEOC Chief Jacquelin Berrien, the Newsweek/Princeton Research survey was published, reporting that more than seven in 10 Americans believe that same-sex couples should have inheritance rights, Social Security benefits, insurance benefits and hospital visitation rights. President Obama stated that Jacquelin Berrien “has spent her entire career fighting to give voice to underrepresented communities and protect our most basic rights.” The year following Chair Berrien’s tenure (in March 2011), the HRC/Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research survey was published, reporting that a majority of Americans supported repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as a legal union only between a man and a woman.
Then, on November 10, 2012, following President Obama’s reelection, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10-8 in favor of advancing the Respect for Marriage (RFMA) bill to the Senate floor. RFMA proposes the repeal of federal law that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. On January 21, 2013, President Obama stated: “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law.” If RFMA is passed by the 113th Congress, then the federal law will require the provision to same-sex couples of the full range of benefits offered opposite-sex couples, including benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, the Internal Revenue Code and Title II of the Social Security Act.
In 2004 Oregon’s constitution was amended by popular vote to provide in Article XV, Section 5a, that “only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or legally recognized as a marriage.” Nevertheless, in response to national and state governmental and legislative changes intended to be inclusive of the LGBT community, thousands of Oregon employers have adopted personnel policy and employee benefit packages that provide employees with same-sex partners the same benefits historically offered to employees whose partners are of the opposite sex. Such employers are less likely to be the subject of an EEOC local district enforcement inquiry under the SEP, and if selected for investigation, those employers will be a step ahead in credibility and in controlling EEOC litigation risk and costs.
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Produced by the Oregon Business marketing department
When the Portland-based manufacturing company Glass Alchemy, Ltd. was first nominated for an Oregon State University Austin Family Business Excellence in Family Business award in 2004, husband-and-wife team Henry Grimmett and Susan Webb-Grimmett, were honored and optimistic about their chances of winning.
Some employers have embraced the use of employment arbitration agreements as a way to manage and mitigate the rising costs, risks and liabilities associated with employment-related claims. Historically, employment arbitration agreements require employees to present employment-related claims, such as employment discrimination, wrongful discharge, harassment, or claims for wages or compensation to an arbitrator, in lieu of proceeding to court.
Produced by the Oregon Business marketing department
Boly:Welch was founded in 1986 based on a close connection between Diane Boly and Pat Welch. The two had worked together at another recruitment firm and shared certain core values: passion for their work, a sense of humor, a commitment to their community and a desire to create a healthy, nurturing work environment.
The Oregon New Lawyers Division of the Oregon State Bar recognized two of Barran Liebman’s own at their Annual Meeting and Social on November 1.
Barran Liebman LLP is proud to announce that Iris Tilley has been named a partner with the firm. Iris has been with Barran Liebman since 2009 and is a member of the Employee Benefits practice group. She advises employers in all aspects of employee benefits, including ERISA, COBRA, HIPAA, retirement plans, compensation agreements, and health care reform.
Dunn Carney will host its annual Ag Summit on Jan. 10, 2014 at the Holiday Inn in Wilsonville, OR. We are very pleased to welcome Dr. Sherri Noxel, Director of the Austin Family Business Program at Oregon State University College of Business as our Keynote speaker.