Michael Porter is a partner and member of the firm's employment law and labor relations and education law practice teams. He works with public and private employers in all areas of labor and employment law, providing strategic advice and counsel to address and reduce risk of employment claims in light of the overall goals of the employer.
Mike's employment work includes the defense of complex employment matters such as wage and hour class actions; trials centering on employment discrimination, retaliation, and whistleblower claims; and litigation of constitutional claims asserted against public entities such as those involving the First Amendment, including speech and religious freedom cases and procedural and substantive due process and other constitutional claims. Mike represents employers dealing with traditional labor issues, ranging from negotiating with unions, arbitrating grievances, and representing employers in matters involving the National Labor Relations Act and the Oregon Public Employee Collective Bargaining Act.
Mike’s practice also focuses on serving public school districts, private schools, and higher education institutions on issues involving employment, including tenure issues, student rights and discipline, education programs, and federal and state regulatory compliance. Through this work, Mike has tried lawsuits and has addressed issues through the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and other regulatory bodies, including extensive negotiations with OCR and the United States Department of Justice to obtain favorable resolution terms for institutions. This education-related work has encompassed litigation, advice, and counsel under Title IX of the Education Amendments, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act, and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, as well as constitutional issues such as public-forum restrictions and equal protection restrictions on consideration of race or other protected status in educational programs. Mike's practice encompasses litigation and providing practical strategies that educational institutions must consider while advancing their unique educational missions.
Mike regularly undertakes speaking engagements and provides training to clients and to industry groups. Mike's presentations include employment- and education-related topics for the National Association of College and University Attorneys, the National School Boards Association Council of School Attorneys, the Oregon Chapter of the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, the Oregon School Boards Association, and the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators.
Employment Litigation Plus
Jury verdict in favor of employer school district in lawsuit asserting disability discrimination, workers’ compensation discrimination, and violation of whistleblower statute.
Summary judgment in favor of university employer facing a variety of discrimination and retaliation claims by former enrollment employee.
Summary judgment and Ninth Circuit affirmance in favor of school district and individual defendants, dismissing freedom of speech, religious discrimination, and other civil rights claims of former educator.
Summary judgment ruling dismissing 42 USC §1983 free speech case by university instructor in which court determined that in-class speech was not protected under the Constitution because it was not speech made as an employee on a matter of public concern.
Defended through resolution wide range of wage and hour class actions asserting multi-million damage claims on issues including, FLSA exempt status, alleged unpaid pre-post shift hours worked, to state law concerning deductions, penalties, and timely pay at termination of employment.
Civil Rights & Student Litigation Plus
Obtained jury verdict in favor of university in Multnomah County Court lawsuit brought by former student asserting claims potentially infringing on institution’s discretion in academic matters.
Complete defense victory through Washington Court of Appeals in lawsuit filed by Division I coach asserting wrongful termination following dismissal for sexual harassment.
Represented school district in religious freedom lawsuit brought through American Center of Law and Justice.
Represented school district in First Amendment claims arising out of threatening website brought through American Civil Liberties Union.
Summary judgment in favor of school district and administrators in student-athlete’s claims of constitutional procedural and substantive due process brought under Section 1983.
Dismissal and Ninth Circuit affirmance of Title IX and 42 USC § 1983 claims asserted against University and coach seeking to expand institutional responsibility to situations beyond control of institution.
Coauthored amicus brief in Doe v. Medford School District, addressing public-entity rights as property owner and employer and state statutes concerning concealed weapons.
Labor Law Plus
Defended representation petition before the Oregon Employment Relations Board keeping employees outside scope of bargaining unit.
Negotiated collective bargaining agreements.
Achieved arbitration award favoring hospital concerning interpretation of layoff rights.
Obtained just cause dismissal upheld in arbitration despite lack of progressive discipline based on finding of gross negligence in performance.
Gained just cause dismissal of faculty member upheld in arbitration following assertions concerning management of difficult student.
Garnered arbitration award favoring employer in contract dispute concerning assignment of courses to faculty.
Advice, Counsel & Investigations Plus
Advised cities, counties, and school districts on variety of issues related to governance, ethics, employment, complaint procedures, and public records and meetings, including politically sensitive matters.
Served as counsel to chief executive officer through multi-layered investigation.
Investigated assertions of gender-identity discrimination and advised entity of practices consistent with nondiscrimination obligations.
Advised employers on all aspects of labor and employment law, ranging from oversight of wage and hour audits, day-to-day employment relations, leave laws, and labor law.
- Employment Law Alliance, Oregon representative
- Campus Legal Advisor Newsletter, regular contributing columnist and advisory board member
- American Bar Association
- Section of Labor and Employment Law, Employment At –Will, A State-by State Survey 2011 and supplements through 2016, regional editor and Oregon author
- Oregon State Bar
- Employment Actions in Contract Labor and Employment Law Private Section: Legal Publications, co-chapter editor 2011 Rev.
- Portland State University, adjunct professor teaching U.S. and Oregon school law in the continuing administrator licensure program
- University of Kansas School of Law, board of governors
- St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, chancellor
- Campaign for Equal Justice’s Laf-Off, stand-up comedy performer
- National Council of School Attorneys and Oregon Council of School Attorneys, member
- National Association of College and University Attorneys, member
- Reviewer for portions of the Oregon Educator licensing assessments for the Oregon Teachers Standards and Practice Commission
- Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® (Portland, OR)
- Employment Law—Management, 2014-present; “Lawyer of the Year,” 2018
- Labor Law—Management, 2014-present
- Litigation—Labor and Employment, 2013-present; “Lawyer of the Year,” 2023
- Selected for inclusion as an Oregon Super Lawyer, 2015-present
- Selected to Rising Stars, 2008-2009
Outside the Office
Mike enjoys tennis, working, running, and spending time with family.