Saturday, July 04, 2015

Final Order Issued In Oregon Same-Sex Wedding Cake Refusal

This week, the Commissioner of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries went beyond the recommendations of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) (see prior posting) in finding violations of law by a bakery whose owner refused on religious grounds to provide a wedding cake to a same-sex couple.  In Matter of Melissa Elaine Klein dba Sweetcakes By Melissa, (Bur. Labor & Indus., July 2, 2015), the Commissioner agreed with the ALJ that co-owner Aaron Klein violated ORS 659A.403 that bars discrimination in public accommodations on the basis, among others, of sexual orientation, and that both owners are therefore liable for damages totaling $135,000.  However the Commissioner, rejecting the ALJ's contrary conclusion, held that in addition both co-owners violated ORS 659A.409 that prohibits anyone acting on behalf of a place of public accommodation from issuing any communication that indicates facilities or services will be denied to anyone on account, among others, of sexual orientation.  This finding was based largely on statements in an interview broadcast on radio and television that the bakery would continue to refuse to provide cakes for same-sex weddings, an on a note taped to the bakery door.

Finding the state law provisions constitutional, the Commissioner issued a cease and desist order barring the owners from
publishing, issuing, circulating or displaying ... any communication, notice, advertisement or sign of any kind to the effect that any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, services or privileges of a place of public accommodation will be refused, withheld from or denied to, or that any discrimination will be made against, any person on account of sexual orientation.