Oregon, like most states in the U.S., is an “at-will” employment state. This means that unless a written contract exists, an employee can quit with or without notice, at any time and for any reason. An employer can also fire any employee with or without notice, at any time and for any reason, as long as it is not an illegal reason. This situation makes it very hard for workers to prove they were fired for an illegal reason.
Some of the many illegal reasons for termination are because of a person’s race or gender, in retaliation for complaining about harassment, in retaliation for making a wage claim, and in retaliation for making a workers compensation claim. If you are experiencing difficulty on the job, it is a good idea to document in writing every situation that may violate your legal rights. Be diligent and record dates, times and witnesses so you can protect yourself from illegal firing/retaliation if the need should arise.
If an employee is terminated for an illegal reason, the employer can be forced to pay front pay, back pay, noneconomic damages, and punitive damages.