Skip to main content

Oregon State Flag An official website of the State of Oregon »

Employment at will

Oregon laws allow the termination of an employment relationship by either the employer or the employee, without notice and without cause.

This is called "at will" employment. It means that generally, unless there is a contract or law that states otherwise, Oregon employers may discharge an employee at any time and for any reason, or for no reason at all.

However, employers may not fire or let employees go because of discriminatory reasons. Learn more about discrimination at work.

In practice

Most employers choose to reserve the right to employ at will with specific language in personnel policies.

Example: "We reserve the right to employ at will. This means that employment can be terminated, with or without cause, and with or without notice, at any time, at the option of the company or at the option of the employee."

To maintain at-will status, it’s wise for employers to indicate that policies are merely guidelines and are not to be construed as a contract. 

Example: "These policies are not to be construed as a contract of employment. We expressly reserve the right to change, add to, or delete policies at any time. Changes will be effective on dates determined by the company, and you may not rely on policies that have been superseded. No supervisor or manager other than our Chief Executive Officer, Beau Lee, has authority to alter the policies, and all such changes must be in writing."

If you think your employer is violating this law, you can make a complaint or contact us to get help.

The law

These cases from Oregon courts have set this precedent: Simpson v. Western Graphics, 293 Or 96, 99, 643 P2d 1276 (1982); Nees v. Hocks, 272 Or 210, 216, 536 P2d 512 (1975)

Disclaimer: This website is not intended as legal advice. Any responses to specific questions are based on the facts as we understand them and the law that was current when the responses were written. They are not intended to apply to any other situations. This communication is not an agency order. If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney.​