Climate Protection Win for Oregon Workers
Industry plaintiffs brought two claims against rules to protect workers in Oregon from the harmful and dangerous impacts of exposure to heat and smoke. Both suits were dismissed “with prejudice” which means they were dismissed permanently and cannot be brought to Court again.
On December 20, 2022, the U.S. District Court in Medford dismissed a lawsuit brought by Oregon Manufacturers and Commerce, Associated Oregon Loggers Inc., and the Oregon Forest Industries Council. The suit was intended to roll back a set of rules that Oregon OSHA put in place in June 2022 – at the urging of OEC and partners – to provide Oregon workers with protections from extreme heat and smoke that has become increasingly frequent due to climate change.
The Court has dismissed all claims “with prejudice”. This means that important worker protections remain in place, and plaintiffs cannot file the same claim again in the Court.
The health and safety of workers matter. OEC believes the Court got it right by dismissing the frivolous claims against Oregon’s life-saving heat and smoke rules.
OSHA worked closely with advocates, business groups, and a diverse array of stakeholders to end up with rules that gave employers plenty of flexibility, while at the same time, providing specific ways to measure AQI and acclimatize workers.
We are happy to see the court’s ruling on this lawsuit,” said Ira Cuello-Martinez, Policy and Advocacy Director at Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN). “We have been advocating for common-sense protections, such as access to cool water and shaded rest areas, for years now. Oregon farmworkers have already been benefiting from the newly adopted rules after experiencing another hot summer season. Although there is still more to improve on enforcement and employer compliance, maintaining these standards in place is the right call. We are glad the Court correctly upheld these life-saving rules and finally put to rest this disappointing lawsuit.”
The bottom line: With the lawsuit behind us, it’s time for all stakeholders to collaborate in implementing these vital worker protections.
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