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At-Will Employment - What does that mean?

Oregon is an At-Will Employment State. What does that mean? Officially, it means the employment relationship is "at-will", and the employer or the employee can end the relationship at any time for any reason.

So, can I terminate someone at any time, for any reason? Technically, yes. But is that a good idea? No, not really.

With new discrimination claims, litigation and case law coming out almost daily, here's a few ways you can reduce your risk if you need to terminate an employee:

  1. DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT! This might be the most important step. If an employee came back and claimed wrongful termination, you want to ensure you have written documentation of the conversations, who was there, when they occurred, what happened, and action steps going forward, and any follow ups going forward. And document based on the behavior - not the person.

  2. Ensure there is no discrimination occurring - People can claim discrimination on a variety of different protected classes, including age, race, sexual orientation, gender, or disability status. Some good questions to ask yourself as you go through the discipline/termination process:

    1. Does this follow my policy?

    2. Does this follow any established or implied procedures?

    3. Is this consistent with how I've treated other employees demonstrating the same behavior?

  3. Ensure there is no retaliatory behavior occurring.

  4. When in doubt, ASK. Sometimes it is nice to have an outsider's perspective. I'm always available to talk you through a situation, and often I've seen or heard this situation before!

I want to help you reduce your risk when making recruiting/termination decisions. I can't wait to chat with you!


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