Many people in Oregon and nationwide are “at-will employees.” Being an at-will employee means your boss can fire you at any time so long as he or she does not break any discrimination or whistleblower laws. But, if you have an employment contract or certain types of employee manual policies, you can sue if your boss breaches your contract. That could result in getting your job back and being paid back wages or lost wages.
Employment Contracts and Oregon Law
The Oregon State Bar Association (OSBA) has written an excellent explanation of contract employment law. Whereas criminal law or discrimination law are governed by statutes, contract disputes are decided using “common law,” which is made up of all of the previous cases decided by courts. Courts write out the reasoning behind the decisions they make and those decisions become part of the law. The common law tradition is used in many former British colonies. It can be much harder for lay people to find answers when common law is involved, so the help of an attorney becomes even more important. The courts also try to consider things like public policy when deciding these disputes.
The simplest contract is a written one that states the period of time for which you will be employed, what you will be paid, and for what reasons you can be fired. If your employer violates a straightforward contract like that, you may be able to file a lawsuit to recover your job and even to get back pay. The goal of this is to put you in the position you would have been in had the employer not broken the contract. If you are in a union, the contract your union has negotiated with the company will probably have very strict procedures you have to follow if you believe you have been wrongfully terminated. There are usually very strict deadlines involved in union contracts, so you will want to work closely with both your attorney and your union representative.
Sometimes contract provisions can be designed to benefit the employer at your expense. These can include provisions limiting your right to sue the company at a later date, or limiting your ability to enter in to a competing business should you choose to leave your company. For these reasons, it is in your best interest to consult with an attorney before signing any sort of employment contract. It is also a good idea to consult with an attorney before you leave a job where you have an employment contract to see how the terms of the contract will affect you if you leave your employer.
Video of Hidden Stipulations in Employment Contracts
Contacting the Employment Attorneys at HKM
If you have questions about your employment contract, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP. We have experience helping clients in all aspects of employment law, and can begin working on your case immediately. Call us at (503)389-1130 or send us a message online.