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OAN comments on proposed OHA farmworker guidance

Wednesday, April 22, 2020   (0 Comments)
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OAN and the Oregon Farm Bureau (OFB) have commented on proposed interim guidance regarding COVID-19 for agricultural workers and employers from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). The guidance includes practices and requirements intended to prevent transmission of the pathogen in the agricultural workplace.

The two trade groups reviewed the document in depth and found many good recommendations but others that could be difficult to implement. They also found instances where the practices could conflict with medical privacy laws, other workplace laws or landlord/tenant laws. The groups therefore urged OAN to make the guidance nonbinding, allowing growers and farmers to incorporate them where it makes sense.

“COVID-19 has caused many state and federal agencies to move very quickly to put new requirements and programs in play,” OAN legal counsel Steve Shropshire of Jordan Ramis PC stated in a response to OHA. “Employers are already finding internal inconsistencies between those new initiatives, but also between the new initiatives and existing laws. Therefore, the executive branch needs to take the necessary time to make sure that the guidance is consistent with existing state and federal law, regulations, executive orders, and existing powers. Again, we cannot understate the need to clearly label this as non-binding guidance in order to avoid placing employers in a situation of making a Hobson’s choice between competing legal obligations.”

As input, OAN submitted a markup of the guidance that incorporated an OFB markup by Vice President Public Policy Mary Anne Cooper and Associate Policy Counsel Samantha Bayer. You can read the combined markup, with comments from Bayer, Cooper and Shropshire, here. (Word document | PDF)