Frequently asked...

ATTENTION: The information provided on this page is informational only and not intended to be construed as legal advice. Multiple factors affect an analysis of a legal claim. The questions on this page are based on situations in Oregon under Oregon law. The facts relevant to each situation are unique and no one viewing this site should act or refrain from acting based on the information on this site without consulting their own attorney. Access to this site, and use of information in it, does not create an attorney-client relationship.

I want to open my own business. How do I start?

Presumably, you start with an idea and a business plan. Assuming you have those two things, you have to ask yourself multiple questions including whether you need protection from personal liability, what the most beneficial tax structure would be for your business, what is the most beneficial business entity for your business plan, do you need employees and how many... the list goes on.

If you want to learn the basics, a good place to start is the Oregon Business Guide provided by the Oregon Secretary of State's office. This guide provides the user with an outline on the steps to take, items to consider, and obligations going forward. Many people navigate the business waters on their own, but if you have questions -- ask. Accountants, attorneys, and bank employees are often helpful when questions arise in their respective areas of expertise.

I have a felony on my record, but my company doesn't know about it. Can I get fired if they find out?

Probably, but it really depends on the employer and the crime. For example, if you have a felony because you were going 150mph down the highway but you telecommute to work, do not need to drive or have a driver's license, and only do data entry -- your employer might not care about your felony. If you have a conviction for a crime of dishonesty like fraud or theft, however, an employer may not want to take the risk.

If you work for the government, it's likely that you did not have the felony when you applied, in which case you should consult an attorney and review the rules that apply to your job. Some government employers require disclosure of arrests, criminal charges, or convictions, and failure to do so may result in termination. Some government jobs also require a background check every few years. For example, if you work for the State and they find the felony when they run a background check on you while you're employed by them, you might get a notice that the felony popped-up in their search. You should get a chance to explain your situation, so consult an attorney immediately in that situation to better understand your rights, risks, potential consequences, and options going forward.

If you work in the private sector, your employer might fire you. There is a law commonly known as a "ban the box" law in Oregon. In Portland there's an even stricter ordinance that prohibits employers from asking about your criminal history until after they make a conditional job offer. That does not, however, prohibit other employers from asking about your criminal history in an interview.

If you lied to your employer and told them you did not have any criminal convictions when you actually did have convictions, then your employer might fire you for lying to them in the first place.

There are a lot of "what ifs" in employment when you have a criminal conviction on your record. It can be difficult to find and hold a well-paying job. Some arrests, charges, and convictions can be expunged from your record (essentially erased) if certain conditions are met.

My employer wants me to work 18 hours a day, 7 days a week. Can my employer do that?

In most circumstances, the answer is a qualified "yes." Unless you're in manufacturing, canneries, drying plants, packing plants, or seafood plants, your employer can schedule you to work all-day, everyday.

Non-Exempt Employees. If your position is subject to overtime laws, then your boss must compensate you at time-and-a-half for every hour worked over 40-hours in the subject week.

Exempt Employees. If you're an exempt employee, then you're out of luck because your employer is not required to pay you at the time-and-a-half rate for hours worked over 40/week.

The reality, however, is that working too many hours in a week may be inefficient, unsafe, or -- quite frankly -- not worth it. If your employer is requiring you to work an unseemly number of hours, it would not hurt to consult an attorney about your options.

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