Employment Law

Employees in Oregon have employment rights, whether or not they belong to a union.  I have assisted both union and non-union employees protect those rights and recover lost compensation and benefits.  I argued the case before the Oregon Supreme Court, Tadsen v. Praegitzer, 326 Or 465 (1996), which established the right of Oregon employees to future wage loss or front pay in employment cases.  Employment related laws are numerous and complex.  A knowledgeable and experienced advocate can help protect your valuable rights.

Employment in Oregon is generally at will, meaning that the employer or the employee may end the employment relationship for any lawful reason. This rule allows an employer to fire an employee at any time and for any reason, so long as it is not an unlawful or wrongful reason. Even though Oregon generally recognizes the at will rule, certain discharges are considered by the courts to be wrongful. For example, it is wrongful to discharge an employee for complying with a public duty, such as jury duty. It is also wrongful to discharge an employee for filing a workers compensation claim or for resisting on-the-job sexual harassment.

Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment benefits compensate individuals who are out of work through no fault of their own. As a general rule, you can collect up to 26 weeks on a regular claim. After you file your claim, there is a one week waiting period before you are approved for benefits. When you file your claim, a notice may be sent to your employer to verify the reason why you are unemployed. If you were laid off because of a lack of work, you will most likely be entitled to benefits. However, if you quit your job or were fired, the Employment Department may conduct a further investigation.

Wage Claims

Employers generally must pay for overtime at a rate of one and one-half times your regular rate of pay. If you work more than 40 hours in a week, those extra hours worked are overtime. Executive, administrative, or professional employees are exempt. Salaried employees are NOT automatically exempt from minimum wage and overtime requirements.

Non-Competition Agreements

In Oregon, non-competition agreements are governed by ORS 653.295. If the agreement is not entered into upon initial employment or on a bona fide promotion it is not valid and will not be enforced. A common mistake that employers make is that they do not have the employee sign the agreement upon the commencement of employment or upon a subsequent bona fide advancement. There may be other defenses that employees have against the enforcement of non-competition agreements. I have handled several of these types of cases, with good results.

Rights of Disabled and Injured Workers

Under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), covering employers with fifteen or more employees, and Oregon law covering employers with six or more employees, it is illegal to discriminate against mentally and physically disabled people. People with mental impairments such as depression are protected just as physically disabled people in wheelchairs are protected. These laws also protect people with a past record of a disability and those people who have no disability but are treated as if they did because of a mistaken belief on the employers part. Federal and state law prohibit employers from refusing to hire or promote disabled people and from discriminating against them in working conditions, wages or benefits. Employers are prohibited from asking any job applicants (not just disabled applicants) medical questions or from putting such questions on job applications. After you accept an offer of employment, the employer may ask medical questions or require a physical exam, and may rescind an offer of employment if you would be unable to perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodations.

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