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Enhancing the Health of Veterans through Research and Education

Employee Relations

Equal Employment Opportunity

PVARF is an equal opportunity employer. Every employee has the right to work in surroundings that are free from all forms of unlawful discrimination. PVARF will not engage in nor tolerate unlawful discrimination on any basis prohibited by local, state or federal law. Specifically, PVARF does not discriminate against any person in any matter of employment on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, sexual orientation, military or veteran status or status as a disabled veteran or a veteran of the Vietnam era.

This policy applies to staff of all levels within the organization and includes (but is not limited to) the following: (1) recruiting and soliciting for employment; (2) hiring, placement, promotion, transfer, and demotion; (3) employment training or selection for training; (4) pay rates, compensation, and benefits; and (5) termination. All selection methods and criteria shall be based on job-related criteria and individual merit.

PVARF encourages men and women of minority status to apply for positions at all scientific and administrative levels.

Employees should speak to either the Executive Director or Human Resources if he or she has any related questions, complaints or comments on this policy.

PVARF recognizes that employees with physical or mental conditions which significantly limit their major life activities may need reasonable accommodations to enable them to perform their essential job functions. Any employee who believes he or she needs reasonable accommodation should notify Human Resources. Although the need for accommodations is determined on a case-by-case basis, generally PVARF and the employee engage in an interactive process with the employee's healthcare provider(s). The employee has an obligation to cooperate with PVARF in this process, which may include authorizing PVARF to communicate with the employee's healthcare providers concerning the employee's condition, its limitations, and possible reasonable accommodations.

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Domestic Partner Statement and Policy

PVARF seeks to promote acceptance of diversity in all its dimensions. In light of this goal, the benefits provided to domestic partners, as much as possible, are the same benefits as provided to spouses of legally married employees.

Registration of a domestic partnership is not required in order for the employee to be able to take advantage of this policy's provisions, with the exception of insurance benefits, including medical, dental and vision.

Domestic partners are persons who:

    • Are at least 18 years of age.

    • Are competent to contract at the time the domestic partnership statement is completed.

    • Are not legally married to or legally separated from any person.

    • Are not related in any way that would prohibit marriage in Oregon State.

    • Have been each other's sole domestic partner for the past six months and intend to remain so indefinitely.

    • Are engaged in a committed relationship of mutual caring and support and are jointly responsible for their common welfare and living expenses.

    • Share permanent residence.

Completion of an Affidavit of Domestic Partnership (ADP) will be required for coverage under the group medical, dental, and vision insurance benefits. Please see Human Resources for information and the ADP form.

Upon receipt of a properly completed ADP form, PVARF will consider the partnership registered as of the date on the signature on the form. Children of domestic partners are eligible for benefits under the same conditions as are the children of employees' legal spouses.

Enrollment of domestic partners and eligible dependent children is subject to the same rules as enrollment of other dependents.

Under the current medical, dental, and vision plans, domestic partners and their enrolled dependents receive the same or equivalent benefits as spouses and their enrolled dependents receive for group continuation health coverage through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) and/or individual conversion.

An employee may terminate a domestic partnership by notifying Human Resources in writing of the termination of the domestic partnership within 30 days of its termination. (The same guideline exists for married couples that divorce.) The employee must then wait six months from the date of the notice before registering another domestic partnership, except in either of the following cases:

    • The employee is registering the same domestic partnership within 30 days of notification of the termination of that domestic partnership, or

    • The employee's former domestic partnership was dissolved through the death of the employee's domestic partner.

The tax consequences of a domestic partnership are the responsibility of the employee, not the company. Under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), an employee is not taxed on the value of benefits provided by an employer to an employee's spouse or dependent. However, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has ruled that a domestic partner does not qualify as a spouse. The value of benefits provided to an employee's domestic partner (and the domestic partner's eligible children, if any) is therefore considered part of the employee's taxable income, unless the employee's domestic partner qualifies as a dependent under Section 152 of the IRC.

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Harassment & Discrimination

Consistent with our belief that each employee should be treated with respect and dignity, PVARF is committed to providing a work environment free of discrimination and unlawful harassment. In keeping with the commitment, we maintain a strict policy prohibiting harassment and discrimination based on any protected category including, but not limited to: age, race, religion, national origin, physical or mental disability, marital status, gender, sexual orientation, veteran status. This policy applies to all PVARF agents and employees. Furthermore, it prohibits harassment or discrimination in any form, including verbal, physical, or visual harassment. A non-exhaustive list of what may, in some circumstances, be harassment or discrimination includes derogatory visual images, jokes of a sexual nature, name-calling, derogatory comments, or anything that creates a hostile or offensive work environment.

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Administration

Each of us is responsible for professional conduct and for helping to create a positive work environment. A positive work environment is free from harassment, discrimination or intimidation. Harassment or discrimination in the work place, whether committed by employees, supervisors, or any third party is not sanctioned or tolerated.

If you have a complaint of unlawful harassment or discrimination that cannot be immediately resolved by confronting the harasser, you should immediately contact your direct supervisor or, if you prefer, contact the PVARF HR Administrator or Executive Director. All incidents will be investigated promptly and corrective action recommended based on the results of the investigation. Such action could include disciplinary action up to and including termination. To the extent possible, every effort will be made to keep the situation confidential and the investigation will be limited to relevant individuals.

Retaliation towards employees who bring a complaint of harassment or discrimination is strictly prohibited, unlawful and may result in corrective action, up to and including termination of employment. It may also result in potential personal, legal and/or financial liability.

Complaints of acts of harassment, discrimination or retaliation in violation of this policy will be accepted in writing or orally, and anonymous complaints will be taken seriously and investigated. We urge anyone who is a victim or who observes such harassment or discrimination to report it immediately to those individuals identified in this policy.

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What is Sexual Harassment?

Government regulations define sexual harassment as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment;

Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such an individual;

Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonable interference with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.”

Sexual harassment is unlawful and the prohibited conduct exposes not only the organization but also the individuals involved in that conduct to significant liability under the law. Accordingly, PVARF is committed to vigorously enforcing its sexual harassment policy at all levels within the organization.

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Supervisor Responsibilities

The supervisor must ensure that the work environment is free of harassment, discrimination and intimidation of any nature as noted above.

The supervisor must let employees know that harassment, discrimination; intimidation and retaliation are prohibited and will not be tolerated.

If a supervisor is aware of or suspects harassment, discrimination, intimidation, or retaliation, he or she should contact the PVARF President or Executive Director immediately for assistance.

If evidence of harassment, discrimination or intimidation is found, the supervisor, working with the PVARF President or Executive Director will assist with the initiation of a prompt and thorough investigation and effective corrective action.

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Employee Responsibilities

If appropriate, tell the person the conduct is unwelcome and must stop. Immediately report any actual or potential harassment, discrimination or intimidation directed toward you or other employee, to your supervisor, the PVARF HR Administrator or Executive Director.

It is PVARF policy that employees cooperate fully and honestly with any investigation upon request.

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Whistleblower Protection Policy

The Portland VA Research Foundation (PVARF) requires directors, officers, investigators and employees to observe high standards of business and personal ethics in the conduct of their duties. As employees and representatives of the PVARF, we must practice honesty and integrity in fulfilling our responsibilities and comply with all applicable laws and regulations. PVARF will not condone any activity that is illegal or improper, whether by an employee, investigator, board member, or administrative staff.

These guidelines are intended to encourage and enable employees and others to raise serious concerns within the PVARF prior to seeking resolution outside the PVARF. Conduct that may fall into the category of improper activity includes fraud, theft, safety violations, misuse of funds intended for research or education, harassment, or retaliation.

Anyone filing a complaint concerning an improper activity must be acting in good faith and have reasonable grounds for believing the information disclosed indicates improper activity. No director, officer or employee who in good faith reports improper activity shall suffer harassment, retaliation or adverse employment consequences. An employee who retaliates against someone who has reported improper activity is subject to discipline up to and including termination of employment.

The procedures for reporting suspected improper activity and for investigation of such reports are included in the PVARF Policies and Procedures Manual.

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Access to Personnel Files

PVARF maintains a personnel file for each employee, which is on file at the PVARF administrative office in Building 104 Room G-217. The personnel file includes such information as the employee’s Personnel Request form, resume, salary increases, and other employment records.

Employees who wish to review their files should contact the PVARF Executive Director. With advance notice, the employees may review their own personnel files in the PVARF administrative office. All personnel files are the property of the Portland VA Research Foundation.

Verification of employment requests with PVARF may only be provided by the PVARF administrative office. Whenever possible, employment information requests should be made in writing with a written authorization and release signed by the individual who is the subject of the request. Responses to such requests will confirm only the dates of employment, wage rates and position(s) held.

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Feedback on Performance

You are encouraged to ask you PI for feedback at any time, especially if you have questions about how you are doing. If you PI has concerns about your performance, he or she will talk to you about them.

What You are Encouraged to Do at Any Time:

    • Inquire about your performance. Ask questions. Raise concerns.

    • Accept additional responsibilities and show initiative

    • Ask for assistance in setting goals

    • Learn about additional training opportunities that might be available

    • Let your manager know if something isn’t working from your perspective.

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Nepotism

Employment of relatives is permitted, except in circumstance where an appointment places related people in supervisory or subordinate roles, or in a situation where influence could be exerted, directly or indirectly, on future decisions concerning the status of the employee’s employment, promotion, or compensation. For this policy, “Relative” is defined to include an employee’s spouse, parents, children, step-children, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, cousins, grandchildren, grandparents, and any person with whom the employee lives in a relationship substantially equivalent to marriage (domestic partner).

If two employees become related or begin dating or become involved in an intimate relationship, and their continued employment might or does create a conflict of interest or the appearance of favoritism, one of the employees may be transferred to another open position. If such a position is not available, one of the two may be asked to resign or may be required to seek employment outside the PVARF.

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