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What rights do you have if you lose your job?

On Behalf of | Jun 22, 2022 | Employment Law

Oregon gives employers a lot of latitude to fire employees. However, workers have rights against being fired under certain circumstances.

At-will employment

Oregon is an at-will employment state where an employer may fire an employee for any reason. However, there are exceptions to this rule if the firing is illegal, violates a contract or constitutes other grounds for wrongful termination.

Employers must pay terminated employees all wages owed to them by the end of the first business day after the firing.

Contracts

A contract containing specific reasons for firing may cover non-union employees. If an employer violates this contract, the employee may sue for breach and receive reinstatement and back wages. In some circumstances, an employee handbook may govern these situations.

A working agreement or collective bargaining agreement governs union employees. These typically contain a grievance procedure. Union employees may also file a claim against employers for breach of contract after an unsuccessful grievance procedure. Workers can also file a claim against the union for violating its fair representation duties.

Federal or state laws

Federal or state law prevents firing for the following reasons:

  • Firing based upon race, religion, color, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, age, or juvenile record.
  • Reporting possible state safety and health regulations, whistle blowing or reporting illegal activity.
  • Testifying at an unemployment compensation hearing.
  • Filing a complaint with Bureau of Labor and Industries or Equal Opportunity Commission.
  • Jury duty.
  • Filing a safety complaint.
  • Filing a workers’ compensation claim.
  • Because of their disability, in most cases.
  • Military service.
  • Requesting family or sick leave.

Wrongful termination

There may be grounds for a wrongful termination claim for terminating an employee for fulfilling a societal obligation or asserting rights related to their role as an employee that is guaranteed by contract, law, the constitution, or public policy. Resisting sexual harassment at work, for example, could be a wrongful termination.

Other grounds

Fired employees may have claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress. This occurs when an employer or their agent intentionally or recklessly subjects an employee to conduct which is intended to inflict severe emotional distress. The conduct must exceed the bounds of social toleration.

Employees may also have a claim if the employment situation is so bad it makes them quit. The worker must prove that the employer’s behavior was intended to cause the resignation and decision to quit was reasonable.

A lawyer can assist workers with protecting rights. They may also help file a claim within the required time.