Employers must consider state and federal laws when hiring and firing personnel.
Employment is at-will in Pennsylvania, meaning managers do not need to give notice or a reason when changing wages and benefits or terminating an associate. However, in some situations, wrongful termination laws apply.
Employers who terminate employees based on differences in race, sex ethnicity or religion are guilty of wrongful termination. Additionally, firing someone due to a disability or medical condition or for refusing to participate in polygraph testing is discriminatory and illegal.
Making a claim against an employer is a protected right under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. Managers cannot fire personnel for speaking out about unsafe conditions, misspending, mismanagement or fraud within the company.
Breach of contract
Workers under contract are no longer at-will employees, and the terms outlined in the employment contract apply. If the document dictates a one-year employment agreement, early termination is inappropriate and unlawful unless the contract conditions specify performance failures or offenses that warrant termination.
Public policy violations
Employers cannot require employees to commit criminal acts. Examples may include:
- asking a bartender to serve an intoxicated customer
- forcing a truck driver to drive more than 11 hours in a day
- telling an employee to lie on official documents
Additionally, managers cannot punish workers for taking medical leave or performing jury duty.
Before accepting an offer of employment in Pennsylvania, it is important to know and understand your employment rights so you can recognize signs of employer misconduct and protect yourself.