Employees leave their position at a company for a wide variety of reasons. Sometimes they move on to new opportunities. Sometimes their position no longer supports employer goals. Sometimes one party breaches the terms of the employment contract. Sometimes employers simply need to lay off workers during a difficult time.
Because Pennsylvania is an at-will employment state, employees and employers alike can end the employment arrangement for any reason. However, there is an exception to this rule: wrongful termination. What makes termination illegal?
What actions might constitute wrongful termination?
While an employer ending an employee’s time at the company may feel unfair under any circumstances, wrongful termination involves an illegal termination based on discrimination or retaliation. Some examples of discriminatory or retaliatory termination include:
- Disproportionately terminating the employment of older employees during layoffs
- Firing an employee because they filed for medical leave
- Ending an employee’s time at a company because they acted as a whistleblower, as in a 2019 case regarding a Pennsylvania business.
- Firing an employee because they refused advances from a supervisor
- Making decisions about termination based on an employee’s race or ethnicity
If you have concerns about the reasons your employer ended your time at the company, legal options may be available. When an employee can show that their employer terminated their position based on “willful misconduct,” they may be eligible for the wages lost due to the termination of their employment. They may also receive additional funds to offset the emotional impact of the termination and the extension of health benefits during their unemployment.