As an employer, you have many concerns, from ensuring operations remain smooth to maintaining harmony and productivity among workers. There are many areas of potential liability to worry about as well.
One specific subject to be cautious about is wrongful termination and the possibility of a lawsuit.
Pennsylvania has an “at-will” employment policy
Excluding the existence of an employment contract or specific regulation that renders the “at-will” stance not applicable, you have the right to fire your workers at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all. This means that a wrongful termination claim is not something you need to worry about the majority of the time. However, there is one exception.
Wrongful termination for retaliation is a serious business
Discharging employees for filing a workers’ compensation claim or reporting discrimination is illegal. Courts take claims alleging that you fired someone as retaliation very seriously. An example of such a case is the race discrimination and retaliation suit against the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.
Even if your decision had nothing to do with anything except worker performance, if you made it around the time the employee filed a workers’ compensation claim or discrimination claim, you may open yourself up to a wrongful termination for retaliation claim. If you cannot avoid discharging an employee during these periods, having evidence of a legitimate reason for firing him or her can help refute retaliation charges.
In most cases, you do not need to concern yourself with wrongful termination claims. However, claims that you wrongfully discharged a worker for filing for workers’ compensation benefits or reporting discrimination are more likely to cause you legal troubles. A skilled employment law attorney can help you navigate such cases and resolve them quickly.