Oregon – Unlawful Retaliatory Conduct Now Includes Post Employment Conduct
In McLaughlin v. Wilson, 292 Or App 101 (2018), Defendant supervised Plaintiff when they were both employed at a medical clinic. Plaintiff accused Defendant of sexual and religious harassment. Defendant resigned his employment; Plaintiff voluntarily quit to attend graduate school.
Defendant then visited Plaintiff’s graduate school and told the school, in so many words, that Plaintiff routinely made false allegations that ruined people’s careers to get financial settlement. Plaintiff sued Defendant personally under Oregon’s discrimination retaliation law, ORS 659A.030(1)(f).
Surprisingly, the Court of Appeals held that the individual Defendant could be liable for his post- employment conduct, even though, traditionally, ORS 659A.030 applied only to an “employer,” “labor organization,” or “employment agency.”
The Court of Appeals reasoned that the wording in ORS 659A.030 was changed in 2001 from “employer, labor organization or employment agency” to “person.” Thus the Court found that, under the narrow facts of the case, ORSA.030(1)(f) retaliatory conduct contemplated negative actions such as a disparaging job recommendation by a supervisor who does not have authority to discharge. On that basis, the Court held that such individual actions could constitute statutory retaliatory conduct.