Retaliation claims rise along with pink slips

| Print |  Email
Wednesday, April 01, 2009

pinkslip2


STATEWIDE The recession is decimating business profits across the state, requiring employers to cut their workforces. Along with that has come increasing numbers of ex-employees who feel their pink slips are in retaliation for reporting unsafe or discriminatory work environments.

Nationally, such claims jumped 22% in fiscal year 2008, rising from 26,663 to 32,690, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Oregon mirrors the national trend, with the Bureau of Labor and Industries reporting that its organization received 542 retaliation claims in 2008, up 23% from 438 the previous fiscal year. Those figures are expected to continue rising in 2009 as wide-scale layoffs continue.

“Retaliation claims are absolutely the most common claims against employers,” says Victor Kisch, a partner at Stoel Rives. “We are undoubtedly seeing an increase.”

Under state and federal law, employers are prohibited from retaliating against any employee who they believe has taken certain “protected actions” that are detrimental to the company’s finances or reputation. These actions include an employee’s right to report discrimination or illegal activities in the workplace, claim workers’ compensation or take family leave, which are protected under laws such as the American Disabilities Act, Family Leave Act and Civil Rights Act.

Whether an employer retaliates against an employee by firing, demoting or otherwise punishing him or her, doing so is illegal and can result in a retaliation lawsuit.

With the economy depleting resources, work environments are becoming increasingly intolerant of costly, poor-performing employees, says Amy Angel, associate at Portland-based employment law firm Barran Liebman. This leaves more employers open to wrongful termination and retaliation lawsuits.

Legal proceedings center on determining the validity of the claim, and whether the employer is at fault. They also seek settlements on adequate compensation and the approval of unemployment benefits claims. Kirsh says claimants are almost always looking for monetary compensation, not reinstatement.

“Just about every employment and labor case, except wage-and-hour disputes, has some charge of retaliation,” says Kisch. Companies can avoid such claims by carefully documenting the reasons they are firing or laying off employees, as well as communicating to them why it is happening and what to expect, says Angel.

NICOLE STORMBERG


Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

 

More Articles

The Road to Reinvention

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Damian Smith bets on changing himself — and Portland — through consulting.


Read more...

Can small be large?

Linda Baker
Wednesday, April 01, 2015
040115-lindablogthumbBY LINDA BAKER

Leaders in Oregon's ag sector gathered this morning in Portland’s Coopers Hall winery/taproom to discuss the role of the region as an export gateway, impediments to exporting products and solutions to containerized shipping challenges.


Read more...

On the Road

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

My daughter turned 18 last week, and for her birthday I got her a Car2Go membership. Not to label myself a disruptor or anything, but it felt like a groundbreaking moment. The two of us, mother and child, were participating in a new teen rite of passage: Instead of handing over the car keys, I handed over a car-sharing card — with the caveat that she not use the gift as her own personal car service.


Read more...

Emperor of the Sea

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY COURTNEY SHERWOOD | Photos by Jason E. Kaplan

Pacific Seafood, one of the world’s largest processors, is rebranding as a more transparent and consumer-friendly operation. A controversial CEO and monopoly accusations from coastal fishermen complicate the tale.


Read more...

4 highlights of the MLS labor deal

The Latest
Wednesday, March 04, 2015
timbersthumbBY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

On Wednesday night, a couple days ahead of the 2015 season kickoff, Major League Soccer and the Players Union reached an agreement.


Read more...

Downtime with the executive director of Greater Portland Inc.

April 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015

Janet LaBar, Executive director, Greater Portland Inc.


Read more...

It's a Man's Man's Man's World

May 2015
Friday, April 24, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Male tech workers speak out on the industry's gender troubles.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS