In at-will employment states such as Oregon, you are generally allowed to quit your job at any time for any reason, and your employer can terminate your employment at any time for any legal reason. However, if you are terminated for an unlawful reason, you may have a legitimate claim for wrongful termination. With the help of an attorney specializing in employment law, you can file a lawsuit against your former employer and potentially recover damages to cover the wages you lost, in addition to other damages.
What are some unlawful reasons for termination?
Many people get fired for unfair reasons or for no reason at all. It is important to remember that your termination, even if undeserved, will generally not be considered a wrongful termination under the law unless it falls into one of the following categories:
- Discriminatory under federal/state laws: Employers are legally not allowed to terminate an employee based on their age, race, religion, or other protected characteristic.
- Breach of contract: Employers cannot terminate an employee in violation of the terms of their employment agreement.
- Retaliation: Employers cannot terminate an employee for reporting or exposing unlawful behavior (e.g., harassment, hostile work environment, discrimination) in the workplace.
How can I prove wrongful termination?
Most employers will not openly admit to firing someone for illegal reasons and will only state legal reasons for the termination. The key to proving wrongful termination is to expose the real reasons for termination while discrediting the stated reasons for termination by presenting evidence including:
- Emails and other correspondence from supervisors and coworkers
- Performance reviews
- Witness testimony
- Proof of replacement employee (e.g., proof that company hired less-qualified male to replace wrongfully terminated female employee)
If you are filing a wrongful termination suit against your former employer, your attorney can help you gather the necessary evidence to prove your case.