Pennsylvania is an at-will employment state. Therefore, an employer may fire you for any reason or no reason at all so long as it is not a reason prohibited by the law. There are a limited number of reasons that an employer may not terminate your employment. Some of the more popular reasons are listed below. If you have been wrongfully discharged due to a case of unlawful employment discrimination or in retaliation for protected conduct, contact us immediately for a free initial review of the facts in your case.
Title VII forbids discrimination against individuals based on their race, personal characteristics associated with race, or their color in the hiring, firing, promotion, layoff or any other term or condition of employment. It is also illegal to harass an individual so frequently or severely that it constitutes a hostile work environment or results in an adverse employment decision. An employment practice that applies to everyone can also be illegal if it has a negative impact on individuals of a particular race or color and is not job-related and necessary to the operation of the business.
Title VII protects individuals (both applicants and employees) from unfavorable treatment based on their sex. Individuals who are transgender, lesbian, gay or bisexual may also bring sex discrimination claims. Both victim and harasser can be either man or woman, and the victim and harasser need not be of opposite sexes.
Sexual harassment, unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual harassment are also illegal. Furthermore, offensive comments about women or men in general are not permitted.
An employment policy that applies to everyone equally can still be considered sex discrimination if it nevertheless has a disparate impact on one sex and is neither job-related nor necessary to the operation of the business.
Title VII makes it illegal to discriminate against an individual in any aspect of employment based on their religion. The law protects both traditional, organized religions as well as individuals with other sincerely held religious, ethical or moral beliefs. Absent an undue hardship, an employer must provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee for their religious beliefs or practices.
The Americans with Disabilities Act protects employees with a physical or mental impairment, or a history of a disability, working at a covered employer from discrimination based on their disability (or perceived disability). It requires reasonable accommodation be given to an employee or job applicant unless there would be undue hardship on the employer for doing so. Generally, an individual is considered disabled if she or he has a physical or mental condition that substantially limits a major life activity. It is illegal to harass an applicant or employee in a manner so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile work environment or results in an adverse employment decision. Family members of a disabled individual are also protected. There are also rules on when employers may ask medical questions or require a medical exam for employees.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects individuals 40 years of age or older against discrimination based on their age. The law does not protect individuals younger than 40 years old against age discrimination. The ADEA prohibits discrimination in hiring, promotions, wages, layoffs or termination of employment. It prohibits age preferences in job notices, mandatory retirement in most areas, and the denial of benefits to older employees. Employers are allow to provide voluntary early retirement incentives and enforce bona fide occupational qualifications. An employee may waive age discrimination claims if the release is knowing and voluntary.
The law protects certain individuals who report discrimination based on a protected class. It can be difficult to prove that an employer has terminated or otherwise discriminated against an individual based on their reporting of a problem at the workplace. Additionally, the employer may be able to prove that they had a legitimate reason for doing so. However, the law protects individuals from retaliatory discharge and it is a viable cause of action in the right cases.
The Law also allows an employee to recover when an employer makes a situation so bad that the employee is forced to resign rather than continue at work. The term for this in the law is constructive discharge. Although this can be hard to prove, it is possible in the right factual situations.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that makes it unlawful to interfere with or deny the exercise of any right set forth in the FMLA. It also prohibits employers from discharging or discriminating against any employee opposing a practice made unlawful by the FMLA.
The law requires covered employers to provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for a number of reasons, including pregnancy, child care after birth, care for a covered family member who has a serious health condition, or a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform their job. The use of leave may not result in loss of any employment benefit that accrued prior to the start of leave, and the employer must maintain the employee’s health coverage in a group health plan on the terms that would have been applied if the employee had been at work. There are a number of eligibility requirements under the FMLA.
To speak to a McEldrew Purtell attorney about our experience in wrongful death cases, as well as get a free initial case evaluation, fill out our form or call us directly at 1-866-382-4806.