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When can an at-will employee sue for wrongful termination?

On Behalf of | Aug 17, 2021 | Employment Law |

Oregon is an at-will state. In an at-will state, an employer may discharge an employee for any reason, at any time, unless a written employment contact exists.

Although it’s perceived that at-will employees are rendered unable to file wrongful termination lawsuits, this is not entirely accurate.

Even if an at-will relationship exists, termination may not occur for discriminatory reasons and may not violate local, state, or federal law. Termination under these pretenses is grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit.

Discriminatory purposes

It is against the law to fire an employee because of their race, age, sex, religion, or sexual orientation. An at-will employee may file a wrongful termination lawsuit if they are discharged for these reasons.

Violation of law

Termination cannot violate local law (e.g., municipal law), state law (e.g., Oregon law), or federal law (e.g., the law promulgated by the federal government and its agencies).

Perhaps the most classic example of termination in violation of law is whistleblower retaliation. For example, if an employee reports that his employer is dumping toxic chemicals in a public waterway and is discharged for doing so, he may file a wrongful termination lawsuit.

Employees have rights

Although it often feels that the system is skewed in favor of employers and corporations, employees, even at-will employees, have rights under the law.

If you believe you were terminated for discriminatory or retaliatory reasons, it’s important to seek the help of a wrongful termination lawyer right away.

An experienced lawyer can identify the evidence needed to prove the case and can launch a thorough investigation to ensure the truth gets told.

Portland residents should act quickly. The State of Oregon imposes a two-year statute of limitations on wrongful discharge claims. Failure to act quickly could mean permanently forfeiting the right to legal recourse.

 

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