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What if an employer says a firing was not due to discrimination?

On Behalf of | Mar 10, 2023 | Employment Law |

Employment discrimination and wrongful termination are serious charges that employers are not going to take lightly. In Oregon, employees or former employees who believe their treatment on the job violated state employment law should know how to prove their case so they can be compensated for the illegal behavior.

In many cases, the employer will try to rebut the employee’s discrimination claim by saying the employment action was warranted. Given the problems employers will face if they are found to have broken the law, this is to be expected. Knowing about pretext and mixed motive in discrimination cases is imperative to reaching a positive result.

Workers in protected classes should know how to combat employer rebuttals

People cannot be treated differently because of their race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, color, national origin, religion, disability, age or marital status. If workers believe that discrimination played a role in an adverse employment action such as a demotion or a termination, they can lodge a complaint.

Often, the employer will retort by saying the employee was not subjected to an employment law violation and their work or behavior on the job warranted the action. Regarding pretext, the employer could say that the complaining employee was not doing their job or did not do the job well enough to be retained. This would be a claim of a non-discriminatory reason.

Still, there could be evidence that the justification is a pretext for discrimination. It might have been a person who had disabilities and the employer deemed too costly to retain them and used the legitimate reason to terminate them. There could be a finding of discrimination if that is the case.

Mixed motive is if there is substantial evidence of a non-discriminatory reason for the action. Perhaps there were allegations of theft or not showing up for work. This does not automatically nullify the employee’s right to claim they were discriminated against. If their status as part of a protected class was a motivating factor, there can be a finding of discrimination.

Even if there were issues on the job, there might still be a viable discrimination case

People who believe they were discriminated against and might have had problems on the job that were not directly related to their class status could have a case for wrongful termination. This hinges on the evidence, the circumstances and how the employer behaved while the employee worked there.

The case must be assessed and the evidence analyzed to decide if there is the foundation to file a claim. Contacting employment law professionals who understand the intricacies of these situations is key.


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