If you have ever been fired or let go from a job, you may feel that your employer terminated you for unfairly or for no reason at all. However, a termination without cause is not enough to warrant a legal claim against your employer for wrongful termination. In most states, including Oregon, employers are generally allowed to fire any employee, and employees are allowed to quit, for just about any reason.
The exception to this rule is that employers are not allowed to terminate an employee or force an employee to quit (via constructive discharge) for illegal reasons. For example, employers cannot terminate an employee based on a legally protected characteristic of the employee. These characteristics include the employee’s race, gender, color, national origin, religion, pregnancy, age, or disability.
Employers also are not allowed to terminate an employee in violation of an employment contract. If an employee signs a contract in which they agree to work for the employer for a minimum of six months, firing the employee before that six months is up could constitute a wrongful termination. Employers must also abide by the terms of any written policy regarding disciplinary procedures and employee termination.
Finally, an employer is not legally allowed retaliate against an employee for refusing to violate wage and hour laws, failing to perform illegal acts for the employer’s benefit, or for reporting unethical behavior in the workplace as a whistleblower. Employers also cannot fire an employee for taking time off that they are entitled to under the law.
Oregon residents who have been wrongfully discharged may file an employment law claim against their employer to recover back and front pay, reinstatement, and other damages.