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Joel W Christiansen

Joel Christiansen’s Answers

10 total

  • How do I go about filing a sexual harassment claim if I was employed by the agent and not the company?

    I was an assistant to an insurance agent who paid me under the table. However, the company, Farmers Insurance reimbursed the agent what he paid me monthly. He started sexually harassing me and when I finally brought the issue what to his District ...

    Joel’s Answer

    There are at least two good options: (1) call an attorney in Portland, who can assess your legal rights; (2) call the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. Oregon state law prohibits sexual harassment by employers with any number of employees. You may also have a retaliation claim against the company if you were advised to quit for reporting the harassment. Beware of time limitations. It is advisable that you consult an attorney immediately.

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  • My employer wants to not pay a bonus they signed, claiming they made a mistake on the figures they provided.

    I had my yearly bonus and performance review at my company, I was the first under the new bonus program. It took an additional 45 days past my review date to get a completed review. Tthe review was completed and I signed it. It used figures ...

    Joel’s Answer

    It depends completely on your agreement with the employer (aka - the "bonus program"). If the bonus is based on some figure, then the actual amount of that figure will dictate the amount of the bonus under the agreement. If the amount of the difference is substantial, it could be worth your time to consult with an attorney to assess the situation.

    Good luck!
    Joel

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  • I was paid a bonus in 4/2008. For 2009 they said I was overpaid and that I have no 2009 bonus and want me to pay back part of 08

    My 2008 bonus was paid in April 2008. My 2009 bonus was due April 2009. My employer states they found they over paid me in 2008, even though I had called payroll and questioned the amount. Now, they say they will not pay my 2009 bonus and want to ...

    Joel’s Answer

    I'm assuming from your post that you're in Oregon.

    Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries chimes in with this: http://www.boli.state.or.us/BOLI/TA/T_FAQ_Overpayments.shtml

    My take: the employer is probably not legally allowed to do that, but the penalty is so small that in practice the employer can break the law and will likely get away with it. ORS 652.610 requires a written authorization to deduct from pay. Let's assume what you're describing is a deduction from pay (though a defense attorney would *never* characterize it that way). So, you're entitled to get all your pay back. Good news, right? Wrong. Your employer is entitled to recoup the overpayment by suing you. So, that gets you back to square one. It's a zero-sum game. Well, kind of. ORS 652.615 says that the employer will get dinged $200.00 for each wrongful deduction. Let's say it takes three paychecks for your employer to get their money back -- then the penalties are $600.00. Now consider that you need to go in front of a judge and convince him to penalize your employer. That's an uphill battle that few (if any) attorneys are willing to fight that fight. Go in front of a judge with that argument and you'll see why.

    I hope this answers your question.

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  • Housing for employment

    Can a employee be paid only housing for their work

    Joel’s Answer

    I think you meant to ask, "is it LEGAL...?" The answer: it depends and I can't answer the question as asked. I know, I know...very lawyerly of me.

    Before you write me off as completely useless, take a look at ORS 653.035: "Employers may deduct from the minimum wage to be paid employees ... the fair market value of lodging, meals or other facilities or services furnished by the employer for the private benefit of the employee." The key phrase here is "for the private benefit of the employee." Also note that the statute says "fair market value" and not "whatever amount the employer feels like." There a number of other considerations. What kind of work is the employee doing? What kind of relationship is the employer/employee relationship? If the so-called employee is not actually an employee, then you can pay him or her in wooden nickels for all the legal system cares. At the end of the day, there is no yes/no answer to your question.

    If you are an employee, you should think long and hard about accepting housing for work. There's a reason we don't still operate on the barter system. Likewise, if you're an employer, I wouldn't recommend a work-for-housing exchange unless it were absolutely necessary.

    Good luck!

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  • If a term contract with salary is terminated by employer due to economy does the employer owe remaining salaries?

    if a term employment contract is breeched before the term is over does the employer owe the employee the remainder of salary stated in the contract. Layoff due to economy

    Joel’s Answer

    It is impossible to answer this without knowing the details of your contract. A couple insights though. If your employer promised you continued employment for a certain period of time, that is a promise. If your employer breaks its part of the bargain, then yes, you could be entitled to damages. However, those damages are not necessarily equal to the remainder of the salary stated in the contract. You have a duty to "mitigate" your damages. In other words, you need to look for a job. If you get a job next week, you are probably not entitled to received a salary under your employer's breached contract.

    Likewise, your employer may have defenses. So, the bottom line is that you should speak with a competent employment attorney here in Oregon -- preferably one who understands contractual issues related to employment.

    Good luck!

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  • What action can I take against employer for not granting me medical benefits in accordance with the employment agreement

    My employment agreement states that I will be eligible for medical benefits after 90 days of employment. I have been with the company for 9 full months now and still have not been offered the benefits. I am now pregnant. Where do I go from here?

    Joel’s Answer

    You need to have an Oregon attorney review the employment agreement and the facts surrounding your case. The information you provided is not enough to reach a conclusion.

    Just because you are "eligible" does not necessarily mean your company needs to proactively try to offer you the benefits. That said, your company may have an affirmative obligation, in which case they may have breached a contract and be liable for damages.

    Good luck,
    Joel Christiansen
    Attorney at Law
    Portland, Oregon

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  • If an employer's payroll check bounced are the liable to pay fee associate with overdraft

    So here it is. An employee takes her payroll check to RapidCash and cashes it. The payroll check from the employer then bounces. RapidCash then, instead of coming to the employer for the money, unannounced goes into the employees bank account an...

    Joel’s Answer

    It depends. I am guessing the employee made an agreement with RapidCash allowing them to do this.

    The employee DOES have a cause of action against the employer. If the employer cannot pay wages, the employee can contact the Oregon Wage Security Fund through BOLI and seek payment there.

    I wish the employee the best of luck!

    Joel Christiansen
    Attorney at Law
    Portland, Oregon

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  • What does a person need to establish to succeed in a defamation, libel slander lawsuit

    An old Daycare lady is trying to sue me for Defamation of Character. I do daycare now and was interviewing a potential client to care for her daughter. They were giving the background on why they were leaving their current daycare and I happened...

    Joel’s Answer

    As the other attorney mentioned, the answer is yes -- she *can* sue you. The real concern is whether she will win. Truth may prove you with a defense. However, you will have the burden of proving the truth of your statements. There are many other issues to address such as 1) What kinds of statements did you make? 2) Were the statements facts or opinions? 3) Did your statements prejudice the woman in her business, trade or profession?

    In your case (and nearly all other legal cases), the devil is in the details. As a general matter, I would advise anybody facing a potential lawsuit to contact a lawyer to address their exposure to liability. Defamation can become complicated quickly and you do not want to jeopardize your legal position.

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  • Filing sexual harassment lawsuit against Oregon employer

    THE OWNER OF MY PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT,HAS A SON THAT WORKS THERE ALSO. HE FIGHTS WITH ME TO HIRE ONLY GOOD LOOKING WOMEN, THEN SLEEPS WITH THEM, HAS SEXUALLY HARRASSED ME FOR MONTHS. WHAT CAN I DO? MOVED FROM PORT,OR TO RENO FOR THIS JOB

    Joel’s Answer

    The bottom line is that you need to talk to an attorney. The decision whether or not to bring a claim rests on many issues that are too complex to discuss in the abstract over the internet.

    Good luck,
    Joel Christiansen
    CHRISTIANSEN LAW
    503-928-6750

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  • Employees rights under OR employment laws regarding reimbursement of relocation costs

    In Oregon does an employee have the right not to pay back relocation costs? If so, does this include payments made for deposits and first months rent to aquire an apartment? I have been trying to find the Statute, but have been unsucessful thus ...

    Joel’s Answer

    This is a contractual matter. Consult your employer's written policies. If you agreed at some point to reimburse your employer, then you may be liable for the costs. Without agreement, it will be difficult for them to compel payment.

    If you have any further questions, you can contact me at 503-928-6750.

    Good Luck,
    Joel Christiansen
    Attorney at Law
    Portland, Oregon

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