Reasonable Accommodation for Victims of Domestic Violence

Most employers are aware of the Oregon law that protects employees who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.  The law applies to employers with six or more employees and provides, among other benefits, that eligible employees may take leave to seek legal or law enforcement assistance, seek medical treatment, obtain counseling, and relocate or take steps to secure an existing home to ensure the health and safety of the employee.

Less commonly known is that the law also makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to refuse to make a reasonable safety accommodation requested by an employee who is a victim of domestic violence, assault, stalking or harassment unless the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would cause an undue hardship on the employer’s business operations.  Reasonable accommodation may include a transfer, reassignment, modified work schedule, unpaid leave, changed work telephone number, changed work station, installation of locks, cameras, or a panic button, or implementation of new or altered safety procedures, such as requiring visitors to check in and show  i.d., or restricting visitor access to the victim’s work area.  Employers may require a certification that the employee is a victim and may decline an accommodation if it causes significant difficulty and expense to the employer in light of the size of the employer’s business and the employer’s critical need for the eligible employee.

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