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Thursday
Mar202014

Don’t Believe Everything the State Tells You

WARNING: This may be controversial.

Do you really have to fill out all of the reports the government demands? This is the continuing story of one business owner that has said “enough is enough!”

Some reports are required, tax returns, workers compensation insurance reports, unemployment insurance reports, etc. . . . But are you really required to spend time and money gathering information for the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) so they can provide “business, policy makers, planners and others with the most detailed source of industry employment information at the state and county levels?”

There is a federal statute authorizing the BLS to gather this information. That statute, however, does not require you or any other employer to participate if you do not want to.

So the federal government attempts to bootstrap a totally unrelated Oregon statute to convince first the state of Oregon and then Oregon employers that they are required to provide them with the information they demand.

The statute cited by both the federal government and the state of Oregon requires that employers provide only that information that is necessary for the administration of Oregon’s unemployment insurance program. Quite clearly, a demand for employment data that will be aggregated and distributed to a wide variety of people across the country has nothing to do with administering Oregon’s unemployment insurance program.

So the client has refused to participate. Now the state has sent an ominous worded Notice of Delinquent Report. A picture of a portion of that report is set out above.

You may be interested in my email to the state challenging the assertions made by the federal government and the state of Oregon. That email is copied below.

Some may come to a different legal conclusion. Others may decide that it is simply easier to provide the information than fight. This business owner does not want his employees working on a multitude of state and federal surveys and reports when he needs them working on the business.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

 

Alan Thayer

 

 

Begin forwarded message:


From: Alan Thayer
Subject: Multiple Work Site Report | Notice of Delinquent Report
Date: March 19, 2014 3:00:16 PM PDT
To: "Stacie J. Read"

Stacie, 

You have sent multiple requests to a client claiming they are obligated to complete a report for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Multiple Worksite Report – BLS 3020. Recently, you sent this client a Notice of Delinquent Report, stating that the report is required by Oregon statutes. 

Your “notice” states the reason you are requiring them to give information to the federal government is to provide “business, policy makers, planners and others with the most detailed source of industry employment information at the state and county levels.” The problem is, Oregon law does not allow you to require Oregon employers to report information to you for that purpose. Nor does Oregon or federal law require Oregon businesses to provide information to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Your notice cites two Oregon statutes, ORS 657.660 and 657.670. First, there is no ORS 657.670. It was repealed by the Oregon legislature in 2007. So obviously the now repealed statute does not obligate Oregon employers to do anything. 

The other statute, ORS 657.660, requires Oregon employers to keep records for, open their records for inspection by, provide reports to and furnish information to the director of the Employment Department for administering Oregon’s unemployment insurance program. 

Aggregating data from reports coerced from Oregon employers in order to provide industry employment information to “business, policy makers, planners and others” has nothing to do with administering Oregon’s unemployment insurance program. Accordingly, nothing in ORS 657.660 requires Oregon employers to provide the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics with the information you demand. 

My client has no intention of providing the requested information. Your claims that the employer is violating Oregon statutes that do not give you the authority you assert, is either mistaken or misleading. They do not change the client’s position. 

According to my client, there are three reasons why the information will not be provided. 

1) It takes time and resources away from running the business. A business that employs more than 100 tax-paying Oregonians. A business which has been made much more difficult by the consequences, intended or unintended, of public policy decisions made in Salem, OR and Washington, D.C. 

2) This information would be helpful to competitors and to advocacy groups that would like to do the business harm. Statements that the information requested will be kept confidential are no longer believable. Government has demonstrated time and time again it cannot protect confidential information. Just this morning it was reported that an IRS employee took home personal information on 20,000 workers. The IRS has leaked confidential information on public officials and allowed the IRS to be used as a weapon against those opposed to the party in power. Our government cannot even protect our country’s most secret, most sensitive information. A low level employee of a contractor, Edward Snowden, downloaded and published top secret information, exposing & embarrassing our country. Private businesses aren’t any better. Target, Neiman Marcus and at least three other retailers compromised the confidential information of hundreds of thousands of customers this last Christmas season. The best way to keep confidential information from prying eyes is to not report it to the government. 

3) My client firmly believes that if the information has nothing to do with administering the unemployment insurance program, it is none of your business. 

Perhaps I am wrong. If you have any compelling legal authorities that show that administration of the unemployment insurance program actually means aggregating data for business, policy makers, planners and others with industry employment information, please let me know. Otherwise, I will continue to advise this employer and all others that seek my counsel to ignore your many requests and your Notices of Delinquent Reports.


Alan J. Thayer, Jr.
Business Lawyer

 

 

LegalBriefs are published as an educational service for business people by Oregon business attorney Alan Thayer. He welcomes your questions and comments.

This article and all LegalBriefs articles are offered for general information and educational purposes only. They are not offered as legal advice and do not constitute legal advice or opinion. We do not promise or guarantee that the information is correct, complete or up-to-date. You should not act or rely upon the information in this or any other LegalBriefs article without seeking the advice of an attorney.

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References (1)

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  • Response
    Response: resumes planet
    I have got so legal articles and we don't believe everything the state tells us. That time we have to think every topic from this website. Then after we can easily understood the following articles and the instructions.

Reader Comments (2)

Amen. I work for a business and have questioned the validity of these reports (and for the BLS for that matter). They are a huge burden on employers and since they have to match certain data, they obviously already have the data. The only reason I'm filling them out is because my boss would like me to to be in compliance. I applaud you standing up to these busymakers.
October 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSylvia
I think this is an excellent argument, however it's 2 years old. What was the outcome? I can however, say that I know of many who have simply ignored them, and there was never a consequence....
November 10, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterConservative Avenger

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