It is very important for employees who witness wrongdoing , discrimination, harassment, or any other prohibited act at work to document and make a record of the relevant facts. In many cases a written record can make all the difference because the record makes it more challenging for an employer to deny the existence of a complaint.
Even before registering a complaint, it is always a good idea to review your company's policies and employee handbook. This information may provide a specific protocol and identify individuals within the company who should receive the complaint. This is especially important if an employee's immediate supervisor is the wrongdoer. If there is a HR complaint line, it is wise to call and provide a written follow up to your employer in the way of an e-mail documenting the issues.
If your complaint results in adverse actions such as a poor performance review or a suspension it is important to once again document your concerns. However, should the worst happen, and your employer fires you there are a few things you should do immediately to protect yourself.
First, and perhaps the single most important thing you can do, is to request a copy of your employment personnel file. Oregon law entitles you to receive a copy, including pay records, any notes from supervisors, any complaints you registered and all other documents. It is permissible for the employer to charge you a reasonable fee for copies. By requesting the file immediately you are more likely to receive the full contents of the file. The information in the file is a key part of any potential claim and will permit any attorney you contact to provide you with the best advice possible.
Your employer has terminated your employment and you believe you have a claim for wrongful termination. Oregon law imposes a number of deadlines by which you must take action in order to pursue your claim. As a general rule, employees of a private company (non-governmental) have a year to file suit. However if you filed a written formal complaint with a governmental agency, such as the Bureau of Labor and Industries, your deadline to act is ninety (90) days following the release of the final agency decision and receipt of the "Right to Sue" letter.
If you happen to be a government employee the law requires even more of you in even less time. Most governmental employees must provide a written notice of claim to the appropriate recipient within 180-days of the harm complained of. Thus even before moving forward with a lawsuit, the employee must provide proper notice to the agency. This requires submission of a Tort Claims Notice that is sufficient to allow the agency to investigate the claims. This deadline is triggered by the underlying harmful act. Missing this deadline could result in the loss of potential claims. Also, the scope of the notice is important as any claim not identified by the notice will not be permitted to go forward.
If you are a governmental employee who believes that he/she has been subjected to prohibited-employer conduct it is important that an attorney be contacted immediately to ensure that these important deadlines are not missed.