Retaliation is prohibited in the workplace when an employer takes "adverse action" (such as termination, demotion, etc.) against an employee based on the employee's "protected activity." Protected activity includes actions such as reporting a good faith belief that a law, including statutes or regulations, is being violated, e.g. criminal activity or fraud involving public or private funds, as well as testifying as a witness for another employee, cooperating with a government agency, or in some cases even consulting with an attorney about such matters. Various state and federal statutes prohibit workplace retaliation by both private and public employers. Each statute must be carefully analyzed for its application to a given set of facts. The policy behind anti-retaliation statutes is similar to the policy underlying whistleblower laws - reporting matters of significance is to be encouraged when employees witness or experience unlawful, unsafe, or discriminatory activity, as is assisting others in enforcing their rights under safety and anti-discrimination and other laws. Oregon has several statutes that make particular types of retaliation unlawful. Some examples are: ORS 652.355 (barring retaliation for making a wage claim or discussing same with an attorney or governmental agency); ORS 653.060 (barring retaliation for pursuing minimum wage or overtime claims); ORS 654.062 (OSHA retaliation); ORS 659A.030(1)(f) (unlawful race, gender, etc. discrimination); ORS 659A.199 (reporting a good faith belief that a law is being violated); ORS 659A.203 (barring retaliation by public employers); ORS 659A.230 (retaliation prohibited where employee initiates or aids in a criminal proceeding or commences a civil proceeding against an employer).
A summary of Oregon's law prohibiting retaliation for filing a workers' compensation claim.