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Understanding protected classes in a wrongful termination case

On Behalf of | Jun 8, 2021 | Employment Law |

Oregon workers might not realize that they are accorded certain rights if they are categorized in what is called a protected class. State and federal laws are in place to shield people who might be vulnerable to discrimination and other forms of mistreatment on the job, giving them the ability to fight the illegal workplace behavior. These can include a dismissal, a demotion, being paid less than others, getting work assignments that are less desirable, losing out on advancement and more. The Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries (BOLI) is in place to help workers. While this can give workers an understanding of the law, there are times when it is necessary to go further and initiate a legal case to achieve justice.

Am I in a protected class?

The law protects certain people from having a specific factor held against them when an employment decision is made. For example, if a person is terminated because the employer found out about his or her sexual orientation, this is a violation of a protected class. Race, gender, national origin, status in the LGBTQ community and more are protected classes. With a civil rights claim, three criteria must be in place: the employee must be in a protected class; there must have been an adverse action such as a firing; and there must be a link between the protected class status and the employment action.

Lodging a complaint about discrimination and illegal workplace behavior

Workers who have been wrongfully terminated, discriminated or faced other sanctions have five years from Sept. 29, 2019 to file a complaint. Workers can use other options to complain including informing the employer’s human resources department, complaining to BOLI, complaining to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), or filing a civil suit in state or federal court.

Weighing options with potential wrongful termination cases

When the workplace wrongdoing is blatant, it is imperative to have professional advice. Even people who do not think they were victimized by wrongful termination and their firing was simply part of business operations should consider whether there might have been discriminatory activity. In cases where it is questionable, it is even more important to have professional assistance. For guidance, it is useful to have experienced representation. A consultation can provide information with how to move forward.

 

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