Employee Whistleblower Claims In Oregon
Oregon, like most states, has enacted a whistleblower statute that limits the rights of employers to take adverse employment action against employees who have reported wrongdoing by their employer. Seems pretty broad, doesn’t it?
Well, the good news for our Portland business and employment law clients is that while this statute is a pitfall for the uninformed, it is one that can easily be navigated by the careful employer.
Whistleblower claims are part of the broader subset of retaliation claims. Under Oregon law, employers are prohibited from firing employees for taking a number of protected actions, one of which is reporting suspected violations of state law. Oregon’s whistleblower statute provides as follows:
It is an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discharge, demote, suspend or in any manner discriminate or retaliate against an employee with regard to promotion, compensation or other terms, conditions or privileges of employment for the reason that the employee has in good faith reported information that the employee believes is evidence of a violation of a state or federal law, rule or regulation.
If an employee has reported what he or she believes to have been a violation of state or federal law, the first step for the employer is to investigate whether the violation occurred. This means investigating the underlying claims and what information led the specific employee to believe that such a violation had occurred. Documentation is the key to an effective and thorough investigation.
The tricky and sometimes expensive part of whistleblower claims for Oregon employers is that false federal or state reports are far more likely to be filed by an employee who is already disgruntled. Often, that employee is disgruntled because he or she is on the brink of termination anyway.
Careful employers document employment files with incidents of poor workplace performance long before this occurs. Corrective action needs to be specific, well-documented and thought out.
Contact A Portland Whistleblower Lawsuit Lawyer
If you fired an employee soon after that employee filed a complaint with a federal or state agency, you need to contact an experienced Portland employment lawyer. There are several factual and legal defenses, including strict timelines for bringing a case. If the employee’s claim is timely, you need a Portland attorney with experience in whistleblower claims to carefully investigate the facts and build the case that the firing was for a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason.