Oregon: Third Parties Liable for “Aiding and Abetting” Employment Discrimination
All Employers with OR Employees
June 23, 2021
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In Charlton v. Ed Staub and Sons Petroleum, Inc. and Quicksilver Contracting Company, the Oregon Court of Appeal recently stated that aiding and abetting employment discrimination extends beyond employers and employees to third parties, such as customers. There, an employee reported a customer’s emaciated dog to the authorities. Subsequently, the customer told the employer it would take its business elsewhere. The employee was then terminated for poor customer service.
The court stated that anyone qualifying as a “person” under Oregon’s anti-discrimination laws may be subject to liability as an aider or abettor of an employer’s unlawful employment discrimination practice. There, an employee claimed that he engaged in protected whistleblowing conduct for which he was terminated as a result of the customer’s retaliatory conduct.
Employers must take care in responding to customer complaints or actions regarding employees, to ensure that employment actions are not the result of an employee’s protected activity. Similarly, employers should implement internal processes to manage employee complaints about third parties before they are relayed to the third party.
- Have appropriate personnel trained on employee protections.
- Have disciplinary procedures reviewed for compliance.
- Update contracts with customers and vendors to include an obligation to comply with Oregon’s laws against discrimination and retaliation.
- Have discrimination and complaint policies updated for compliance.
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Disclaimer: This document is designed to provide general information and guidance concerning employment-related issues. It is presented with the understanding that ManagEase is not engaged in rendering any legal opinions. If a legal opinion is needed, please contact the services of your own legal adviser.
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