Joel bio

Joel Christiansen

Attorney

Email: joel@worklaw.io

Phone: (503) 841-6722 ext. 2

Contact Forms:

Employees > Employers >
Hi, I’m Joel Christiansen. I've been a workers' rights lawyer since 2008. I work on employment-related legal matters located throughout Oregon, primarily for employees.

To contact me about a new matter, please fill out a contact form (strongly preferred) or email me. All inquiries are 100% confidential. If I can't help, I'll do my best to provide a referral.

Overview

What I do:
  • Advise and represent employees with employment contracts (employee agreements, noncompetes, severance agreements, etc.) and related issues. 

  • Pursue employment civil rights cases (discrimination, retaliation, leave laws, wage claims, etc.). 

  • Help employers who want to petition for nonimmigrant work visas to bring international workers to the U.S.—mostly artists and creatives.
In addition to my legal work, I enjoy gardening, outdoor activities, computer programming, and volunteering.

Work / Experience

   (A)   Employment Contracts

I help employees understand and negotiate employment-related agreements, including employment contracts, severance agreements, NDAs, noncompetes, and compensation agreements. 

I've reviewed, negotiated, and drafted countless employment contracts in a variety of industries including technology, arts, healthcare, sales, finance, apparel, startups, creative agencies, and engineering.

I have a special interest in noncompetes, NDAs, confidentiality agreements, and privacy-related matters. In 2020, I supported the AFL-CIO and Oregon Trial Lawyers Association in connection with Oregon Senate Bill 1527. The bill aimed to amend Oregon’s primary noncompete statute, ORS 653.295. It unanimously passed the Oregon Senate and received unanimous approval from the House Committee on Business and Labor. The bill did not become law because Republicans walked-out to prevent passage of an unrelated climate change bill. 🤦‍♂️

   (B)   Workplace Rights Litigation

I have significant experience in Oregon civil rights cases, wage claims, and other employment litigation matters. 

My recent litigation matters include:
  • I represent the plaintiff in Zweizig v. Northwest Direct Teleservices, Inc., 3:15-cv-02401-HZ (U.S.D.C., Portland Division). A federal jury returned an unanimous $1 million noneconomic damages verdict to my client, “a fired technology manager [...] unlawfully retaliated against by a former boss who published nearly 100,000 words in derogatory articles about him on a website and public blog.” (The Oregonian)

    ↑ Note: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals certified this case to the Oregon Supreme Court to determine whether Oregon's statutory damage cap—ORS 31.710—limits damages in employment discrimination claims to $500,000.

  • From 2018-2020, I worked as co-counsel with Jim Vogele and the Oregon Law Center in the case of Cole v. Kraft Heinz, 18-cv-02121-SU (United State District Court, Pendleton Division). We represented a factory worker who was fired while on leave caring for a critically ill family member.

  • Represented IT Director of a public entity in whistleblower retaliation litigation arising under ORS 659A.199 and related statutes.

  • Arbitration matter for executive of a biotechnology company in a breach of contract case.

  • Represented political asylee in claims under ORS Chapters 652 and 653 to recover unpaid minimum wages and overtime pay from employer who housed employees in dormitory-style living arrangements.

  • Defended California technology company against former employee's Oregon claims for unpaid commissions.

  • Represented public employee in successful administrative proceedings and appeal to Oregon Court of Appeals in connection with unemployment insurance benefits.

  • Represented several crime victims in actions under ORS 659A.270 et seq. against employers who terminated employment due to crime victim status.

  • Defended software engineering firm against claims from former remote employee.

  • Represented fire chief in whistleblower claims including ORS 659A.203 et seq. and ORS 659A.199.

  • Obtained unlawful employment practice substantial evidence determinations from the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) on behalf of workers.

   (C)   Work Visas

I love working with employers and other attorneys on U.S. work visas for international artists, creatives, and cultural performers. My particular areas of interest are O (extraordinary abilities), P (performing arts), and Q (cultural exchange) classification visas.

You can read more about these work visa using a free directory of primary legal research materials I created at https://creativevisas.com.

I am happy to represent and associate with clients and other attorneys on work visa cases located throughout the U.S. I do this work on a 100% remote basis.

In 2019, I contracted to help develop software-based immigration workflow prototypes for Legalpad.io, a Seattle-based startup that pairs smart software with human support for work visas for international workers.
 
Education / Professional Background

I received my undergraduate degree in political science with an emphasis in political philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) in 2004. I went to law school at the California Western School of Law in San Diego, California in 2008. I have been an active member of the Oregon State Bar since 2008.

I started my legal career at age 19 during college as a volunteer paralegal at the UWM Student Legal Clinic, a student-funded free legal clinic. We worked primarily on housing and landlord-tenant matters against off-campus landlords. We also did campus-based legal education and collaborated on neighborhood initiatives with public officials and other nonprofit organizations.

Also during college, I worked as an intake specialist at the Milwaukee County Bar Association's Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRS). There I fielded 25-50 calls from throughout Milwaukee County and referred to a network of local attorneys, community agencies, government services, etc. I was promoted to LRS Director, a job I held until I went to law school.

During law school, I worked for two years as a part-time law clerk at Nicholas & Butler, LLP a plaintiff-side class action law firm in San Diego, California. I worked on investigations, discovery, motion work, and trial preparation in commercial cases, consumer class actions, and employment litigation cases in state and federal courts and private arbitration. The firm's cases included unfair business practices and product origin fraud cases against retailers and manufacturers under statutes, often including claims under California's Unfair Competition Law (UCL), B&P Code § 17200 et seq. We brought claims in connection with factory made goods falsely marketed as "Made in the U.S.A." and foods falsely marketed as "Grown in California." We also represented the consumers/plaintiffs in the district and circuit court proceedings in the cases that became AT&T v. Concepcion, 563 U.S. 333 (2011).

After working for a year as an associate attorney at a Portland plaintiff-side law firm, I hung a shingle and have been happily self-employed ever since.

In addition to my legal work, I am a self-taught software developer with over 15 years of experience. In 2016, I built a legal records automation system that used open source tools to scrape and organize Oregon state trial court records. In 2004, I created an art sales website that attracted tens of thousands of users and eventually merged with another large art sales website. I'm proficient in most forms of modern web development including back and front end frameworks, database management, cloud services, and project management tools.

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