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Judge rules in Pennsylvania employment law case

A federal judge ruled recently that an employee of Pennsylvania-based Lincoln National Corp who was employed at an Illinois branch of the company could not sue under Pennsylvania laws. The former employee filed complaints of sex discrimination and age discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The woman was trying to seek protection under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act based on the fact that the company she worked for has headquarters in Radnor, Pennsylvania. However, she both lives and works at locations in Illinois. The law does not specifically include or exclude people who live and work outside of the state, but the judge read the statute's statement of intent as limiting it to protecting "the people of the commonwealth." He left the issue of whether one who either works in the state or lives outside of the state could pursue a claim under the statute.

She still has other options to pursue claims against the company, including under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and under Title VII.

These questions are important for anyone who believes their rights have been violated, since it is not enough to simply have something bad happen to you at work. Employees also need to make sure that their grievance is addressed by a law and that the law provides some specified relief for them. Similarly, determining which law to pursue a claim under also affects what sort of remedy an employee may be entitled to.

The underlying issues in this employee's suit are very serious violations of federal employment law. Age discrimination and sex discrimination are both illegal, and employers should be held responsible for violating the law.

Source: Pittsburgh Post- Gazette, "Pennsylvania Human Relations Act only for Pa. residents, judge rules," Gina Passarella, Dec. 31, 2012.

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