What is the law in Oregon for wrongful termination?
The law that protects employees in Oregon against wrongful termination is needlessly complicated. Unfortunately, it has become more difficult than ever for most employees to know their rights because of Oregon law’s increasingly complex and constantly changing nature. This article will seek to clearly and succinctly discuss when Oregon workers may have legal claims against former employers relating to terminations. The last part contains a helpful list of Oregon-based organizations’ reasons for wrongful termination lawsuits.
What can be considered as wrongful Termination under Oregon Law?
As a starting point, it is critical to recognize two meanings for the phrase wrongful termination. Most individuals have it in their minds that wrongful termination means firings that make little or no sense or seem unjust. If an employee is mistreated during their termination, it may boost the strength of their wrongful termination claim. However, for legal actions to be established, an employee’s termination must be shown to be both unfair and unlawful. In other words, if incorrect or unjust firings are not illegal in Oregon, it does not mean they are “unjust.” Most people do not realize these essential differences.
Discrimination related lawsuits most often stem from terminations that break the law. Most frequently, terminations are for discriminatory reasons, such as an employer dismissing someone because of their religious beliefs or an employee’s pregnancy. However, termination may also be illegal because of other factors, such as retaliation. If an employee is unlawfully retaliated against, they can file a lawsuit and get compensation for any losses that they have incurred. Retaliation under the law means an adverse action taken by an employer, employment agency, or labor organization because a person participated in particular conduct.
It is important to note that in order to establish a wrongful firing claim successfully, an employee must be able to link to particular statutes or company policy that mandates the dismissal as illegal. When it comes to state law, Oregon’s collection of wrongful firing laws is a confusing tangle of statutes, common law, and contracts. Because the necessary legal authority is in numerous statutes, obscure administrative rules, and a huge number of legal decisions, it is very difficult to determine the perfect answer. A further thing to consider is that wrongful firing lawsuits may bring both state and federal law into the mix. Understanding legal issues may be challenging since the rules of law are extremely complicated.
The meanings of wrongful termination and wrongful discharge under Oregon law
Under the legal definition, wrongful termination in Oregon could be stated as follows: Any dismissal from a position for which the law provides the employee with recourse against the employer is considered unlawful. The law in Oregon provides three important remedies when the employer fires an unjust employee, which include (a) wrongful discharge lawsuits (tort claims for wrongful dismissal), (b) contracts that have been breached, and (c) statutory violations (infringements).
In wrongful termination lawsuits, the threshold issue is whether the person was fired. Employees who leave voluntarily will have an uphill fight since they have willingly given up their employment. An employee’s wrongful termination suit must usually include termination of their employment. Sometimes workers may file constructive discharge claims against their employer. Legal requirements for these claims are stringent, yet they may nevertheless be valid. As a rule, those who leave will typically be unable to file a wrongful termination claim against their former employer.
Wrongful termination based on Statutory Claims
Most people have wrongful termination claims based on statutory claims in Oregon. Workers often use several discrimination and retaliation provisions under Oregon’s ORS Chapter 659A to file claims. Additional or comparable safeguards provided in other legislative chapters (Section (III)(a), infra.) may be found in different ORS sections as well. In addition, workers may also be able to pursue federal statutory claims.
When pursuing a statutory discrimination suit, losing companies must almost always pay the prevailing employee’s legal costs. Employees will pursue claims even if they cannot afford to hire counsel due to this critical policy. The kinds of damages the employee may seek are often statutory claims (e.g., economic damages, non-economic damages, reinstatement, injunctive relief). These statutory claims provide clear guidelines with previous case decisions drawn from the statute’s history. Doing this makes it possible to simplify legal ideas and make it easier for workers to present cases that are more clearly structured to jurors or other fact finders.
Wrongful discharge based on Tort Claims
Tort claims are not specified by law or regulation; instead, they are flexible and must be applied to each case individually. Employers who are accused of wrongful dismissal usually are accused of behavior that does not fall cleanly within any specific law but rather is seen as socially unacceptable for some other reason.
Wrongful discharge tort claims are divided into two groups in the courts. The first type occurs when an employee is let go because they exercised a relevant public policy-based entitlement. Discharges falling under the second category are intended to perform essential public duties. No matter how you look at it, it is necessary to have a clear legal mandate for the relevant public policy or obligation. Additionally, it is impossible to bring wrongful discharge tort claims where statutory claims offer a sufficient remedy.
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Reading the cases of the Oregon courts is the most credible method to comprehend wrongful dismissal tort claims.
Wrongful discharge based on Contractual claims
Contractual wrongful discharge claims are the last kind of wrongful discharge claims. In contract-based wrongful termination lawsuits, employees usually argue that they were fired in breach of a particular provision in the agreement between them and their employer. In certain instances, it’s unnecessary to have an employment contract in writing. It is usually more difficult for the employee to show that they met their burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence, which makes a wrongful termination claim based on an oral contract challenging.
Instances of Statutory Claims
Any of the following constitutes unlawful discrimination leading to wrongful termination under Oregon law:
- Incidents where people are treated unjustly due to their race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, or age if they are eighteen years of age or older, or due to someone with whom they associate, whether the people in question are juveniles, or because of a record of juvenile delinquency that has been expunged. ORS 659A.030 (1).
- While submitting a complaint, testifying, or trying to do so, and getting dismissed. ORS 659A. ORS 659A.030(1) (f).
- Accommodations for religious purposes. ORS 659A.033.
- Worker’s compensation claims and on-the-job injuries. ORS 659A.040.
- Medical or family leave. ORS 659A.150
- Whistleblower protection. These are included under ORS 659A.199 et seq.
- Discrimination linked to employee housing is concerned with access to employee housing. This is provided under ORS 659A.250.
- Social media privacy concerns are a problem with respect to some social media accounts. ORS 639A.330
- Bias based on credit history. ORS 659A.320.
Instances where Oregon Courts have allowed claims based on torts
Wrongful Termination Attorney, Portland, Oregon
Meyer Employment Law represents employees in wrongful termination cases throughout the state.
Attorneys from Meyer are experienced in a wide variety of wrongful termination claims. In Oregon, it is illegal to fire an employee for reporting or opposing unlawful conduct by the employer, such as discrimination, serious workplace health and safety concerns, wage claims, and various other legal or regulatory violations. It is essential that you consult an attorney with expertise in this area to help you.
Our attorneys have substantial experience representing both employees and employers in Oregon wrongful termination claims.
Have you experienced wrongful termination in the workplace? Do you have questions about wrongful termination? Allow an Oregon wrongful termination attorney to help. Contact us at Meyer Employment Law.
Portland Wrongful Termination Attorney, Robert Meyer
Portland Oregon Wrongful Termination Attorney, Michael Owens
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