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What is wrongful termination in an at-will employment state?

On Behalf of | Sep 2, 2022 | Employment Law |

Most states in the United States, including Oregon, are at-will employment states. This essentially means that in Oregon, your employer can terminate your employment at any time for any legal reason. Similarly, as an employee in an at-will state, you have the right to quit your job for any reason.

If you are in an at-will employment state, your employer may have decided to fire you for reasons that may seem unfair. You may disagree with your employer’s reasons or think that they are completely off base. You may even have good reason to feel the way you do.

However, an unfair termination is not enough to warrant a wrongful termination lawsuit. To file a successful wrongful termination claim against your employer, you must be able to show that your employer terminated your employment for illegal reasons. These illegal reasons may include:

  • Discrimination: Your employer fired you because of your membership in a protected class, as listed in the U.S. Constitution (e.g., age, race, religion, gender, disability).
  • Retaliation: Your employer fired you for engaging in protected activity (e.g., reporting a safety violation in the workplace or filing a sexual harassment complaint).
  • Breach of contract: Your firing violated the terms of your employment contract.

The key to a wrongful termination lawsuit is determining whether your termination was for illegal reasons. An employment law attorney can review your case and advise you on whether to proceed with a lawsuit against your employer.

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