Employment Discrimination Attorney
Serving All of Oregon, Portland, OR – Beaverton – Gresham
The prevailing rule in Oregon and at least 46 other states is that employment is “at will”. This rule applies equally to both parties to the employment. In other words, either the employee or the employer can terminate the employment relationship at any time, for any reason and neither party has any legal recourse against one another. Most Oregon employers and employees know that under certain circumstances, employees do sue employers and win. This is a direct result of the five basic exceptions to the “at will” rule.
Request a Free Employment Law Consultation
Attorney Robert L. Sepp offers Free Defense Consultations for Select Cases. To qualify for a Free Legal Consultation, you must fill out the details of your case below which will be reviewed by Mr. Sepp to see if you qualify.
The manner in which Robert Sepp, Attorney at Law analyzes potential employment claims is by dividing these exceptions into five specific classifications. These classifications are:
(1) Whistleblower Claims
(2) Unlawful Employment Practice Claims
(3) Employment Discrimination Claims
(4) Breach of Contract Claims
(5) Common Law Wrongful Discharge Claims
The first three classifications are based upon The Oregon Revised Statutes. This means that the State of Oregon has taken affirmative steps to protect employee rights by enacting laws creating these remedies. The last two classifications are based upon common law. This means that the courts have created these exceptions to the “at will” rule.
1. Whistleblower Claims
In order to possess a viable claim as a whistleblower, an employee has to be able to prove that the employee reported criminal conduct within the company or testified in court and was the victim of retaliation for having done so. The question of whether the report of criminal conduct has been made externally to a law enforcement agency is largely unresolved at this time. Typically, Robert Sepp handles cases where the report was made internally to company management.
2. Statutory Unlawful Employment Practices
These exceptions to the at-will rule are specifically created by various statues. An employer cannot treat an employee adversely because the employee has filed a workers compensation claim, has filed an OSHA safety complaint, has testified before the legislature, has testified at another employees workers compensation hearing or unemployment compensation hearing, or because the employee has availed himself/herself of the benefits provided by the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
3. Employment Discrimination
The law protects employees against unlawful discrimination based upon the employees race, religion, national origin, color of skin, age, sex, marital status, disability (with certain qualifications) or sexual preference. Discrimination based upon any other factors such as hair color, appearance or even left handedness is legal.
4. Breach of Contract
An employment contract is usually a unique amalgamation of several factors. Most commonly, employment contracts are oral and are based upon promises and commitments that the parties make to each other. For example: if an employer promises and employee lifetime employment, or employment until the age of 65 and the employee continues to work for the employer in reliance upon that promise, the promise can be an enforceable contract in Oregon provided that it is sufficiently specific in its terms.
The law also implies certain terms into employment contracts. For example: the law requires that all employees be paid a minimum of $8.50 per hour, for each hour they are required to work for an employer and also (with certain exceptions) that employees be paid one and a half times their regular rate of pay for hours worked in excess of 40 hours during the employees work week. Breach of contract claims are extremely rare, but Mr. Sepp handles them and offers legal consultations for these type of cases.
5. Common Law Wrongful Discharge
This is an extremely narrow exception to the “at will” rule and applies in only a small number of cases.
There are two elements to such a claim.
First, the employee must have been discharged in retaliation for either conduct that the employee engaged in, or for refusing to engage in conduct requested by the employer.
The second element is that the conduct of the employee must be protected by public policy. One example of this is an employee who is discharged for refusing to engage in sexual conduct with a supervisor. Another example is an employee who refused to defame another employee in spite of the employer’s request to do so.
If You Feel You Have an Wrongful Termination Case
In the absence of relevant, probative evidence that an adverse employment comes within one of the five classifications described above, the employee unfortunately has no right of legal recourse against an employer. If you feel that you were wrongfully terminated and your case fits into one of the above exceptions, please call us, or fill out our request for an employment law consultation today.