Joel bio

Joel Christiansen


841-6722 ext. 2
P.O. Box 4120 #83585
Portland, OR 97208
Note (effective April 14, 2021): I am currently fully booked and not accepting new matters. Jim Vogele is a phenomenal attorney and all-around good human whom I'd recommend for any employment law case. I'm also glad to provide additional case-specific referrals at my earliest convenience if you email me a short summary of your situation.
Hi, I'm Joel. I've advised Oregon employees in employment law matters for 12 years. I've also fought for better laws for employees, volunteered for meaningful causes, and coached undergraduate mock trial at Reed College and Portland State University.

I work for individual employees throughout Oregon (not corporations). I have experience in cases involving healthcare, technology, apparel, government, creative agencies, logistics, skilled technical labor, small business employers, and a variety of other industries and vocations. 

Subject area expertise: Employment contracts, employee rights, compensation, wage and hour, noncompetes, NDAs, nonsolicitation agreements, medical leave, disabilities, workplace safety & health, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing, harassment, and unemployment insurance appeals.

I also have a niche interest in international work visas for creative, performance, and cultural professionals. You can read more at - a free database of legal research materials I created in 2019.

The bulk of my work is "transactional," meaning very few of my cases end up in court. For those rare cases where court is unavoidable, I work to obtain fair outcomes.

Professional Background

I've been doing employment law since I joined the Oregon bar in 2008.

I went to college at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (B.A. cum laude, Political Science, 2004) and law school at the California Western School of Law in San Diego (J.D., 2008). I've been selected as a "Rising Star" by Super Lawyers every year since 2015. I occasionally speak and write for bar associations and other professional organizations.

I cut my teeth working as a law clerk and then as an associate attorney at a high-volume plaintiff-side employment law firm in downtown Portland. I've stuck with employment law because work is such an important part of our lives. Helping employees resolve issues at work brings me joy.

Ultimately, I hung a shingle because it's best for clients. I don't have pressure to hit billable hour quotas or cover bloated overhead. Instead, I can focus on outcomes.

In addition to my law practice, I've contributed as a technical advisor to employee rights groups. I've served on committees for the Multnomah Bar Association, the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association, and the American Bar Association. I coached mock trial at Portland State University (2009-2013) and Reed College (2016-2018), including a nationally competitive team at PSU. I've served on nonprofit boards and community organizations.

Representative Matters

I do not share any details on my confidential advising and consulting work. 

Here are some examples of litigated cases I've handled recently:
  • Zweizig v. Northwest Direct Teleservices, Inc., 3:15-cv-02401-HZ (D. Or.)
    Represented a technology manager unlawfully retaliated against by a former boss via derogatory blog articles. Unanimous jury verdict for $1 million noneconomic damages. (The Oregonian) Defendant's appeals dismissed by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Zweizig v. Rote, No. 18-35991 (9th Cir. June 16, 2020)

    This case is currently before the Oregon Supreme Court on the following certified question of law: “Does Oregon Revised Statutes § 31.710(1) cap the noneconomic damages awarded on an employment discrimination claim under Oregon Revised Statutes § 659A.030?” Zweizig v. Rote, 962 F.3d 484 (9th Cir. 2020).
  • Co-counsel with Jim Vogele and the Oregon Law Center in Cole v. Kraft Heinz, 18-cv-02121-SU (U.S. District Court, Pendleton Division). 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.
  • Represented underpaid workers in minimum wage litigation in state and federal courts.
  • Represented employees in actions against employers for violation of crime victim protection statutes.
  • Represented fire chief in public whistleblower claims.
Personal Background

I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. My mom is an elementary school teacher and my dad was a mechanical draftsman. I worked part time and seasonal jobs throughout college and law school.

I live with my partner and our two rescue dogs Milo (shepherd mix) and Gus (malamute mix). In my free time, I enjoy gardening, the outdoors, playing music, and programming computers.