Oregon Expands Religious Accommodation Rights at Work
On July 16, 2009, Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski signed into law the Oregon Workplace Religious Freedom Act (“OWRFA”). The new statute takes effect on January 1, 2010.
OWRFA expands existing protections against discrimination based on religion in the workplace by requiring employers to reasonably accommodate an employee’s use of leave time for engaging in religious observance or practices. OWRFA also prohibits employers from instituting occupational requirements that restrict employees from wearing religious clothing, from taking time off for holy days, or from participating in a religious observance or practice. The OWRFA contains only one occupation-specific exception: Public school teachers will be prohibited from wearing religious dress while “engaged in the performance of duties as a teacher.”