Oregon Sex Discrimination laws & HR compliance analysis

Oregon Sex Discrimination: What you need to know

The Oregon Fair Employment Practice Act prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of sex, including marital status, sexual orientation, and gender identity (OR Rev. Stat. Sec. 659A.001 et seq.). Discrimination on the basis of sex includes discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions or occurrences (OR Rev. Stat. Sec. 659A.029). The law applies to all employers in the state. An intern is considered to be in an employment relationship with an employer for purposes of employment discrimination under the Act.
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Bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) exception. Differences in treatment are permissible where a protected characteristic is a BFOQ “reasonably necessary” for the position in question. Such situations are rare, however, and employers should be cautious in relying on this when making employment decisions. This exception also applies to advertising and preemployment applications and inquiries. Employers may indicate gender preferences only where sex is a BFOQ.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that federal law under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) allows the use of a BFOQ defense only as an "extremely narrow exception to the general prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex" (Breiner v. Nevada Dept. of Corrections, 610 F.3d 1202 (9th Cir. 2010)). In this case, the employer wanted to hire only female correction officers to work at a women's prison following several incidents of sexual abuse by male correction officers. However, the court ruled that there was no factual basis for believing that all or substantially all men would be unable to safely and effectively perform the duties of the job. The court noted ...

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