Do you believe your employer fired, failed to hire, failed to promote or otherwise took action against you because of your race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, age or disability?
As an “at will” state, Pennsylvania employees can be fired for any reason unless the firing was discriminatory in nature. Additionally, if an employee can establish that their termination breached a preexisting employment contract, a private action for wrongful termination can be brought in court.
Wrongful terminations usually are discriminatory in nature. Under the Federal Civil Rights Act companies with 15 employees or more are forbidden from taking certain employment actions – including decisions relating to hiring, firing, salary, benefits or promotional opportunities – based upon the race, sex, religion, color, sexual orientation or national origin of an employee. Companies with four employees or more are held to a similar standard locally, pursuant to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA). Employees over the age of 40 cannot be fired, or subject to an adverse employment action, because of their age as a result of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which applies to companies with a workforce of 20 or more. Disabled Americans working in the private and public sectors receive protection via the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which not only prohibits discrimination but also requires companies to make reasonable accommodations for their disabled employees.
Employees with a written employment agreement can rely on the document to defeat an “at will” termination, and instead establish their right to continued employment unless and until an employer discovers “just cause” to fire them. Ideally, the agreement will make clear what does – and does not – constitute a “for cause” termination. Although considerably more difficult to establish, employees may also argue the existence of an implied employment agreement, such as when an employer has promised employment for life. Prospective employees should understand; however, that enforcement of any employment agreement can have certain drawbacks. As is increasingly common, the inclusion of a non-compete agreement in an employment agreement can severely limit opportunities for future employment depending upon the nature of the job and related job market. When relying on an employment agreement to establish a wrongful termination, employees must also accept that the same agreement could be used to prevent them from making a fresh start elsewhere. An employer may not terminate an employee for speaking out about wrongdoing at the company. In order to establish a valid claim of retaliatory discharge, a victim must show that they participated in a protected activity, such as reporting discrimination or harassment, at their place of place of business. The victim must also establish that they were fired or otherwise punished for their participation.
If your job has recently been terminated you may be wondering whether you have a viable claim against your former employer. Contact the Law Offices of Eric A. Shore to find out. Our Philadelphia & South Jersey employment lawyers will assess your case and work history, providing you with a clear vision of how to best proceed. We represent victims of wrongful termination throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland. Contact us online, or call 1-800-CANT-WORK or 215-599-9688 today to schedule your free consultation.
The Law Offices of Eric A. Shore is located at:
1500 John F. Kennedy Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19102
201 Laurel Rd – 8th Floor
Voorhees, NJ 08043