Brad Avakian serves as the commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) where he works for strong and fair enforcement of Oregon’s civil rights laws and wage and hour protections. With emphasis on apprenticeships and the return of career and technical education, Avakian has led efforts to ensure that employers have access to a skilled, competitive workforce.
Avakian was born February 4, 1961. A proud product of Beaverton’s public schools, Avakian earned a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Oregon State University in 1984 and a Juris Doctor degree from Lewis & Clark Law School in 1990.
After law school, Avakian opened a civil rights law practice to fight housing and employment discrimination. In response to music program cuts in local schools, Avakian worked with parents and educators to create the Southwest Music School.
Avakian served in the Oregon House of Representatives and, later, in the Oregon Senate representing Washington County and Northwest Portland. As a legislator, Avakian was a strong advocate for public education, Oregon’s environment and working families. Avakian was honored as “Consensus Builder of the Year” in 2007 for his work passing the Oregon Renewable Energy Act and an expanded Bottle Bill. He also worked to strengthen the state’s civil rights laws, including cosponsoring the landmark Oregon Equality Act of 2007.
At BOLI, Avakian championed the return of 21st century shop classes to 340 Oregon middle schools and high schools serving more than 160,000 students. He worked with legislators to pass the country’s first civil rights bill for unpaid interns and oversaw wage and civil rights enforcement that directed more than $25 million back to unfairly treated Oregonians.
Avakian lives in northeastern Washington County with his wife and high school sweetheart Debbie and their two children, Nathan and Claire.
Commissioner of Labor and Industries' Duties
State Office Building, 800 NE Oregon St., Suite 1045, Portland 97232; 971-673-0761
Brad Avakian, Beaverton; nonpartisan; appointed April 2008; elected November 2008; reelected 2012 and 2014; term expires January 2019.
The commissioner is chief executive of the Bureau of Labor and Industries. The commissioner also chairs the State Apprenticeship and Training Council. The term of the commissioner is four years.
The commissioner enforces state laws prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodation and vocational, professional and trade schools. The position also has the authority to initiate a “commissioner’s complaint” on behalf of victims of discrimination.
Through the Wage and Hour Division, the commissioner administers state laws relating to wages, hours of employment, basic working conditions, child labor and prevailing wage rates, and licenses certain industries to ensure quality professional services. The division oversees the Wage Security Fund that covers workers for unpaid wages in certain business closures and enforces group health insurance termination notification provisions.
The commissioner also directs the state’s registered apprenticeship training system that gives workers the opportunity to learn a job skill while earning a living. The program benefits employers by providing a pool of skilled workers to meet business and industry demands.
The agency has expanded its support for employers so that they can more easily comply with frequently complex state and federal employment law. The Administrative Prosecution Unit prosecutes the agency’s contested wage and hour and civil rights complaints. The commissioner issues final orders in all contested cases, except commissioner’s complaints.