Have you been terminated from your employment and feel that you have been retaliated against? You may feel that you have been wrongfully terminated. The two most common actionable retaliation cases occur when making a complaint about unlawful discrimination or whistleblowing.
Pennsylvania law generally respects the at-will employment doctrine that essentially says that the employer has the right to terminate an employee for any reason or no reason at all. The only exceptions to the at-will employment doctrine is when an employee is discriminated against on the basis of a protected class (race, gender, religion, age, or disability) or the narrow public-policy exception (e.g., terminating an employee for serving on jury duty).
The most common reason people feel wrongfully terminated is because they expressed a complaint to their company’s management about something such as unethical or immoral behavior and were then terminated. The question you have is can the employer do this and what are my rights?
If you complained about being discriminated against on the basis of a protected class, you may have a claim since the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee who opposes unlawful discrimination. For example, if you are a Hispanic employee and a Caucasian employee with less experience and qualifications than you received a promotion that you applied for, you complained to management about this, and were then terminated, you may have a very good case for wrongful termination.
Another common situation of retaliation is when an employee complains to their employer about wrongdoing within the company, such as unethical or immoral behavior. If you are terminated for making a complaint about wrongdoing within the company, you would be considered a “whistleblower.” Unfortunately, Pennsylvania’s whistleblower law does not apply to private employees unless their employer receives government funding in some manner. Pennsylvania’s whistleblower law only applies to public (government) employees.
In summary, an employee generally only has a retaliation claim for wrongful termination if they either complained about being discriminated against, assisted in an investigation into a discrimination case, or they complained about wrongdoing and the employer is either a governmental entity or is a private company that receives some sort of public funding.
If you would like to discuss your retaliation case with me, please call me at (484) 362-9286. Our law office is located in Bethlehem, PA.