I'm going to "cut to the chase," so that you know exactly where you stand. Please don't "shoot the messenger." I don't like it any better than you.
Oregon is what is known as an "at-will" employment jurisdiction. This means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all. There are exceptions for discrimination based on race, color, nationality, religion, sex, age or disability -- and for jury duty, witness subpoena
, report of an employer's actual or threatened criminal conduct, OSHA violations, etc.
However, absent one of the above-described exceptions, an employer can terminate an employee for, quite literally, brushing their teeth with their left hand.
This rather distressing fact, which is generally unknown to most employees, makes arguments with supervisors, HR departments, and the like, largely irrelevant. Because, no matter what the employee argues or claims, the employer can say, "That's nice, but if you do it again, you're fired."
Armed with this knowledge, the employee has a very simple choice: explain their position on the issue and then just leave it up to the employer to decide what to do. The only thing that the employee can actually do that will provide any real protection, is to (1) not quit under any circumstances -- always make the employer fire you; and (2) refuse to sign any written warning. The reason for both of these things is that if the employee is terminated, obtaining unemployment insurance
benefits centers on being able to prove that the employee never did anything wrong, and they did not voluntarily quit.
If you sign the warning, then the employer can fire you and then present the warning in the unemployment hearing as proof of the violation of the employer's rules. That signature will hang you, and you'll lose your unemployment insurance benefits. Similarly, if you quit, then you have to prove that no reasonable employee would have remained employed under similar conditions, which is very difficult to do -- otherwise, once again, you lose your unemployment insurance benefits.
That's it -- it's incredibly unfair and unjust, but the laws were written to favor the employer. So, unless you can prove that the employer is hammering you because you're african american, brown skinned, Iranian, Muslim, female, aged 40 or older, or in a wheelchair, then what I've explained here is the best that you can do under the circumstances.
And, if you can
prove unlawful discrimination, then that changes everything, because you can crush the employer under the weight of federal law. If that happens to be the case, let me know and I can discuss this further. Otherwise, you have everything there is to guide you in dealing with HR.
Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.