eAlert: Prepare Your Nonprofit to Comply with Oregon's New Whistleblower Law

November 2016

Kristen G. Hilton, CIPP/US

Earlier this year, Oregon amended its whistleblower law to expand the law's protections to employees working in the nonprofit or public sectors.  Beginning on January 1, 2017, it is an unlawful employment practice for a covered nonprofit or public employer to discharge or otherwise discipline an employee for making disclosure of information to a regulatory or law enforcement agency, manager, or attorney. 

A "nonprofit employer" is broadly defined as an organization or group of organizations that receives public funds by way of grant or contract and is exempt from income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. 

The types of disclosures that qualify for whistleblower protections include reports of:

(1) Violations of any federal, state or local law; or

(2) Mismanagement, gross waste of funds, or abuse of authority by the nonprofit.

The law also requires nonprofit and public employers to establish and implement a policy regarding employees who invoke their rights under Oregon's whistleblower law.  The policy must explain all rights and remedies provided under the applicable statutes, and must be given to each employee in a written or electronic copy.  Nonprofit organizations should be mindful that an "employee" includes a person serving as a member of the board of directors who is not otherwise considered an employee. 

If you manage a nonprofit or currently serve as a director of such an entity, you should take steps to ensure that your organization has the requisite policy in place by January 1st.

A copy of the amendments may be found here

If you have any questions, would like additional information about the new law, would like help drafting a policy, or need advice on how to prepare your organization for compliance, please contact a member of Sussman Shank's Employment Group.  

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