Issues surrounding employment can be extremely stressful -filled with emotional baggage. It is not unusual for clients to come to me seeking advice on how to handle this co-worker who picks on me or this supervisor who is "trying to get me fired." Oregon is an "at will" state. Generally, this means an employee serves at the will of the employer and could be fired for any reason, and even no reason at all as long as it is not prohibited by law. Oregon and Federal laws provide employees with some protections. Any attorney reviewing a potential employment related claim usually has to work hard and learn the real story behind the "company line." Your story could have facts that suggest the employer's decision-making was in violation of one or, in many cases, more of the following:
Discrimination and Harassment are some of the most commonly complained of occurrences. In order to have a viable claim there must be evidence of something greater than being treated differently or feeling like you are picked on. Rather there must be some identifiable characteristic that the law views as being protected that acts as the trigger for the offensive treatment.
Did you know that there are a wide range of characteristics covered by laws prohibiting discrimination in the workplace? There was a time these rules were limited to age, gender, race, religion, and national origin. Now there are laws that protect employees from discrimination because of pregnancy, medical leave, marital status, military service, disability, sexual orientation and the filing of a worker's compensation claim. Laws also protect employees from discrimination because of a garnishment. While sometimes claims of discrimination are obvious and well-documented, most require an examination, not only of the employee's record, but also of the comments and decision-making processes used by the employer. Occurrences along these lines have the potential to form the basis of a legal claim against your employer.
The creation or allowance of a Hostile Work Environment regularly accompanies claims of discrimination and harassment. Determining if a claim exists requires an examination of facts to determine the severity and regularity of offensive conduct, if the employer received notice and any steps taken by the employer to remedy the offensive conduct.
Depending on the size of an employer, there may be protections for employees who are forced to miss work in order to care for themselves and/or family members who suffer from medical conditions. The laws establishing these protections vary greatly between states and the federal government. While your employer and/or condition may not meet the requirements of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) there is a chance that the more generous Oregon Family Leave Act could work to protect you. If both you and your employer meet the qualifications (size of employer, duration of employment, and sufficiently serious medical condition), the laws may impose penalties on employers who prevent their employees from exercising these rights.
If discrimination, harassment and a hostile work environment first hand didn't occur directly to you, but you witnessed something and registered a complaint only to have your employment adversely affected, the Law may also protect you. Your report or complaint could be the cause. Many of the laws protecting employees provide specific protections to those employees who register complaints regarding activities the employee in good faith believes to be illegal. The reported conduct does not have to actually be illegal.
Employers cannot retaliate against employees who make such reports. Retaliation claims include termination and actions less serious than termination. Employers may adversely affect employment by setting employees up to fail following the complaint. An employer may suddenly find the employee's performance lacking where there is a history of good job performance. An employer may transfer the employee to another position with less significant opportunities.
Both Oregon and Federal laws protect employee wages. Examples of these protections include minimum wage laws; laws governing overtime wages; laws requiring payments on regular dates and statements of wages and deductions; prohibit unlawful deductions from wages; requiring payment for all time worked; guaranteeing appropriate break periods; and laws setting forth the amount of time an employer has to pay an employee upon termination of employment. Violations of these laws are serious and subject the employer to serious penalties.
Ben also practices in the area of personal injury - where the cause of the injury was due to an accident not of your making. Ben works with the person who caused the injury or the insurance company (when there is insurance) to put you in a place where you were before the injury.
If you are injured, contact the Law Offices of Benjamin Rosenthal for further direction before you contact any insurance company.
In addition to litigating the above matters, Ben provides a number of other services to employees and in some circumstances to employers. These services include reviewing Employment Contracts (including Covenants not to Compete) and reviewing separation and severance Agreements. Generally Oregon Law disfavors non-compete agreements and strictly construes them. In some instances such agreements are not enforceable.