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Can I be fired for breaking a workplace rule?

On Behalf of | Dec 13, 2023 | Employment Law |

Oregon employers have the right to create rules to protect the safe and efficient operation of their workplaces.

In fact, there are many times where an employer arguably must create workplace policies.  For example, businesses need to have policies in place to protect employees and others from sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination.

Employers also can choose how they enforce their rules. Termination from employment is one way an employer can choose to enforce workplace policies.

However, this does not mean that all a Portland-area employer must do to fire an employee is accuse them of breaking a rule.

An employee should ask themselves several questions before assuming there is nothing they can do if they get fired for a violation of a workplace policy:

  • Is the rule even legal in the first place? Workplace policies cannot violate the rights an employee has under federal or Oregon law. Specifically, rules cannot violate anti-discrimination laws.
  • How did the employer document and explain the rule? Did the employer list the possible consequences, including termination?
  • How consistently does the employer enforce the rule? For example, did the previous person who violated the rule get to keep their job?
  • All things considered, does the punishment really fit the violation?

Claims that an employee violated a rule are sometimes excuses

While it is relatively easy for a business to claim a worker broke a rule, the answers to the questions above may uncover that an alleged policy violation is just a cover for an unlawful termination.

After all, very few companies come out and say that they are firing an employee for illegal reasons. It is too common for an employer to try to create a paper trail that, after the fact, makes an improper firing look legitimate.

A resident of the greater Portland area fired for allegedly violating a workplace rule of policy may have legal options. They should make sure they understand their rights before signing a severance agreement or just assuming that nothing can be done.


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