2015 ORS 654.062¹
Notice of violation to employer by worker
  • complaint by worker to director
  • inspection
  • protection of complaining employees

(1) Every employee should notify the employer of any violation of law, regulation or standard pertaining to safety and health in the place of employment when the violation comes to the knowledge of the employee.

(2) However, any employee or representative of the employee may complain to the Director of the Department of Consumer and Business Services or any authorized representatives of the director of any violation of law, regulation or standard pertaining to safety and health in the place of employment, whether or not the employee also notifies the employer.

(3) Upon receiving any employee complaint, the director shall make inquiries, inspections and investigations that the director considers reasonable and appropriate. When an employee or representative of the employee has complained in writing of an alleged violation and no resulting citation is issued to the employer, the director shall furnish to the employee or representative of the employee, upon written request, a statement of reasons for the decision.

(4) The director shall establish procedures for keeping confidential the identity of any employee who requests protection in writing. When a request has been made, neither a written complaint from an employee, or representative of the employee, nor a memorandum containing the identity of a complainant may be disclosed under ORS 192.410 (Definitions for ORS 192.410 to 192.505) to 192.505 (Exempt and nonexempt public record to be separated).

(5) It is an unlawful employment practice for any person to bar or discharge from employment or otherwise discriminate against any employee or prospective employee because the employee or prospective employee has:

(a) Opposed any practice forbidden by ORS 654.001 (Short title) to 654.295 (Application of Oregon Safe Employment Act), 654.412 (Definitions for ORS 654.412 to 654.423) to 654.423 (Use of physical force by home health care employee in self-defense against assault) and 654.750 (Definitions for ORS 654.750 to 654.780) to 654.780 (Providing basic information to employees);

(b) Made any complaint or instituted or caused to be instituted any proceeding under or related to ORS 654.001 (Short title) to 654.295 (Application of Oregon Safe Employment Act), 654.412 (Definitions for ORS 654.412 to 654.423) to 654.423 (Use of physical force by home health care employee in self-defense against assault) and 654.750 (Definitions for ORS 654.750 to 654.780) to 654.780 (Providing basic information to employees), or has testified or is about to testify in any such proceeding; or

(c) Exercised on behalf of the employee, prospective employee or others any right afforded by ORS 654.001 (Short title) to 654.295 (Application of Oregon Safe Employment Act), 654.412 (Definitions for ORS 654.412 to 654.423) to 654.423 (Use of physical force by home health care employee in self-defense against assault) and 654.750 (Definitions for ORS 654.750 to 654.780) to 654.780 (Providing basic information to employees).

(6)(a) Any employee or prospective employee alleging to have been barred or discharged from employment or otherwise discriminated against in compensation, or in terms, conditions or privileges of employment, in violation of subsection (5) of this section may, within 90 days after the employee or prospective employee has reasonable cause to believe that the violation has occurred, file a complaint with the Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries alleging discrimination under the provisions of ORS 659A.820 (Complaints). Upon receipt of the complaint the commissioner shall process the complaint under the procedures, policies and remedies established by ORS chapter 659A and the policies established by ORS 654.001 (Short title) to 654.295 (Application of Oregon Safe Employment Act), 654.412 (Definitions for ORS 654.412 to 654.423) to 654.423 (Use of physical force by home health care employee in self-defense against assault) and 654.750 (Definitions for ORS 654.750 to 654.780) to 654.780 (Providing basic information to employees) in the same way and to the same extent that the complaint would be processed if the complaint involved allegations of unlawful employment practices under ORS 659A.030 (Discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status or age prohibited) (1)(f).

(b) Within 90 days after receipt of a complaint filed under this subsection, the commissioner shall notify the complainant of the commissioner’s determination.

(c) The affected employee or prospective employee may bring a civil action in any circuit court of the State of Oregon against any person alleged to have violated subsection (5) of this section. The civil action must be commenced within one year after the employee or prospective employee has reasonable cause to believe a violation has occurred, unless a complaint has been timely filed under ORS 659A.820 (Complaints).

(d) The commissioner or the circuit court may order all appropriate relief including rehiring or reinstatement to the employee’s former position with back pay. [Formerly 654.235; 1973 c.833 §14; 1983 c.275 §1; 1999 c.55 §3; 2001 c.621 §82; 2005 c.198 §1; 2007 c.279 §1]

Notes of Decisions

Welder who refused to work on particular machine alleging inadequate ventila­tion and need for respirators was not within protec­tion of this sec­tion, where referee found that claimant had refused to work without justifica­tion. Pintok v. Employ­ment Division, 32 Or App 273, 573 P2d 773 (1978)

Filing of administrative complaint does not bar bringing of civil ac­tion unless administrative complaint has been dismissed following hearing on merits. Carsner v. Freight­liner Corp., 69 Or App 666, 688 P2d 398 (1984), Sup Ct review denied

Where plaintiff was discharged by defendant employer after allegedly suffering handicap and complaining about causative unsafe working condi­tions, plaintiff's ac­tion for wrongful discharge, unlawful employ­ment practices and breach of discharge pro­vi­sions of per­sonnel manual not barred by collateral estoppel or res judicata on basis of earlier denial of his claims for workers' compensa­tion and unemploy­ment compensa­tion. Griffith v. Hodes, 96 Or App 387, 772 P2d 1370 (1989), Sup Ct review denied

Where terminated employee sued former employer for wrongful discharge and employer moved to dismiss, this sec­tion provides state law remedy for employees discharged for complaining about health and safety problems. Messer v. Portland Adventist Medical Center, 707 F Supp 449 (D. Or. 1989)

Applicable statute of limita­tions for ac­tions under this sec­tion is one-year period for filing unlawful employ­ment practice claim. Raptopolous v. WS, Inc., 738 F. Supp. 394 (D. Or. 1990)

Where employer discharged employee in viola­tion of this sec­tion, Bureau of Labor and Industries did not err in refusing to offset unemploy­ment compensa­tion benefits received by employee from back pay award authorized by this sec­tion. German Auto Parts v. Bureau of Labor and Ind., 111 Or App 522, 826 P2d 1026 (1992)

Employees working outside state are not within scope of statute and therefore are not barred from common law tort claim for wrongful discharge. Anderson v. Evergreen Interna­tional Air­lines, Inc., 131 Or App 726, 886 P2d 1068 (1994), Sup Ct review denied

If complaint by employee "related to" Oregon Safe Employ­ment Act, employee need not es­tab­lish that viola­tion of law, regula­tion or standard was alleged or actually existed in order to prove retaliatory ac­tion. Butler v. Dept. of Correc­tions, 138 Or App 190, 909 P2d 163 (1995)

Successful defendant in suit by employee or prospective employee is not entitled to prevailing party attorney fees. Mantia v. Hanson, 190 Or App 36, 77 P3d 1143 (2003), Sup Ct review denied

Because "all appropriate relief" does not include compensatory or punitive damages, availability of relief under this sec­tion does not preclude common law suit for wrongful discharge. Cantley v. DSMF, Inc., 422 F. Supp. 2d 1214 (D. Or. 2006)

Notes of Decisions

Safety codes under Oregon Safe Employ­ment Act apply to all work places and not only to work places covered by Employer Liability Law. Miller v. Ga.-Pacific, 294 Or 750, 662 P2d 718 (1983)

Viola­tion of Workers' Compensa­tion Depart­ment rule resulting in injury to nonemploye is not negligence per se, but it does not follow that rule is irrelevant to determina­tion of due care in case grounded in common law negligence. Shahtout v. Emco Garbage Co., 298 Or 598, 695 P2d 897 (1985)

Where right of ac­tion for injuries exists resulting from viola­tion of Oregon Safe Employ­ment Act, right belongs only to employee whom Act directly protects not "indirect" employee. Flores v. Metro Machinery Rigging, Inc., 99 Or App 636, 783 P2d 1024 (1989), Sup Ct review denied

Referee did not err in finding employer in viola­tion of rule requiring workers to be "properly...supervised" where employee killed in accident was skilled and experienced supervisor working with two other supervisors during strike, but none of the three was in charge. Accident Preven­tion Div. v. Roseburg Forest Prod., 106 Or App 69, 806 P2d 172 (1991)

Whether identity of complainant falsely reporting viola­tion is subject to disclosure under Oregon public records law (ORS 192.410 (Definitions for ORS 192.410 to 192.505) et seq.) depends on complainant's good or bad faith in making complaint. Hood Technology Corp. v. Oregon Occupa­tional Safety and Health Division, 168 Or App 293, 7 P3d 564 (2000)

Chapter 654

Notes of Decisions

An administrative regula­tion requires Accident Preven­tion Division to prove reasonableness of civil penalty imposed for viola­tion of Oregon State Employ­ment Act. Accident Preven­tion Div. v. Sunrise Seed, 26 Or App 879, 554 P2d 550 (1976)

Accident Preven­tion Division rule allowing cita­tion for "repeat viola­tion" of division's safety standards while prior cita­tion is contested and not yet upheld by final order is within agency's authority to promulgate rules consistent with purpose of Act to assure as far as possible safe and healthful working condi­tions. Accident Preven­tion Div. v. Hoffman Construc­tion, 64 Or App 73, 667 P2d 543 (1983)

Atty. Gen. Opinions

Inap­pli­ca­bil­i­ty of occupa­tional safety and health laws to inmates in prison work programs, (1996) Vol 48, p 134


1 Legislative Counsel Committee, CHAPTER 654—Occupational Safety and Health, https://­www.­oregonlegislature.­gov/­bills_laws/­ors/­ors654.­html (2015) (last ac­cessed Jul. 16, 2016).
 
2 Legislative Counsel Committee, Annotations to the Oregon Revised Stat­utes, Cumulative Supplement - 2015, Chapter 654, https://­www.­oregonlegislature.­gov/­bills_laws/­ors/­ano654.­html (2015) (last ac­cessed Jul. 16, 2016).
 
3 OregonLaws.org assembles these lists by analyzing references between Sections. Each listed item refers back to the current Section in its own text. The result reveals relationships in the code that may not have otherwise been apparent.