The meaning of wrongful termination

On Behalf of | Apr 8, 2021 | Employment law

If your employer fired you from your position, you may be experiencing a variety of emotions. You maybe know why the firing occurred, or you may not understand why.

The way that the state of Pennsylvania works, employers can fire an employee for almost any reason. However, there are situations in which it was a wrongful termination, and it is important to understand what that means.

Pennsylvania’s labor and workforce laws

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, most workers are “at will” employees. This means that an employee can quit, and the employer can fire, at any time for no particular reason. The exception for “at will” employment is if there is a contract that outlines a specific employment duration. If there is a contract, the employer may only fire for just cause.

What constitutes wrongful termination

Although “at will” employment gives both employer and employee leeway when it comes to the job, there are times when a firing is illegal. FindLaw discusses that wrongful termination occurs when the firing violates local, state or federal laws. This includes all types of discrimination, such as for age, disability, religion, sex, race, nationality or pregnancy.

An employer may also not fire an employee out of retaliation. For example, if the employee recently filed a violation report to OSHA or the Department of Labor. Harassment also falls under wrongful termination. If a firing occurred because an employee said no to requests for sexual favors or was a victim of a hostile work environment, this constitutes wrongful termination.

If a judge or committee validates a wrongful termination claim, they may order a reinstatement of the previous position or compensation for lost work time.