Wrongful Termination & Retaliation
Philadelphia Wrongful Termination Lawyers Dedicated to Fighting for Employee Rights
Losing your job can be devastating. It causes both economic and emotional trauma. If you have been laid off or fired recently and believe that you may have lost your job for an unlawful reason, you may have a right to bring a claim for wrongful termination against your former employer. Our Philadelphia wrongful termination lawyers represent employees who have had their employment wrongfully terminated or have been retaliated against. Contact the Murphy Law Group to discuss your legal rights.
Wrongful Termination in an “At-Will” State
Both the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and State of New Jersey are “at-will” states, which means that employers can fire their workers at any time, for any reason or no particular reason at all. In practice, this can lead to situations that are deeply unfair to the fired employee—but not unlawful.
However, there are still some situations where you may have a case in court for wrongful termination. Here are some examples of what wrongful termination looks like in at-will states like Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Firing You for Discriminatory Reasons
Under the law, your employer can fire you simply because they don’t like you. But they can’t fire you for discriminatory reasons—such as religion, race, skin color, gender, disability or country of origin.
Other examples of discriminatory reasons include:
- Your pregnancy status
- Your age (if you are 40 years of age or older)
- Your citizenship status
- Your genetic information
- You have a GED instead of a high school diploma
- Sexual orientation and gender identity*
* Discrimination because of sexual orientation and gender identity is unlawful in the State of New Jersey, although it is not currently prohibited by Pennsylvania law. However, many counties and municipalities throughout Pennsylvania have passed laws prohibiting both forms of discrimination, including, but not limited to Allentown, Doylestown, Easton, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Reading, Scranton, State College, and York. Moreover, several federal courts of appeals have held that discrimination because of sexual orientation and gender identity violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, although the United States Supreme Court has yet to decide the issue.
Firing You in Breach of a Contract
In many cases, an employer in Pennsylvania can fire you even if it goes against the stated policy in their employee handbook. For instance, it’s not unlawful for them to fire you immediately, even if their handbook says they have to give you two weeks’ notice.
However, if you have a written contract that clearly lays out conditions under which you can and cannot be fired, your employer must honor the obligations stated in the contract. In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, clearly-stated verbal promises may also hold water in court.
Firing You for Taking Leave You’re Entitled to Take
There are a number of laws that give you certain rights with regard to leave, often requiring your employer to rehire you in the same position and at the same pay level when you return. For example:
- FMLA leave. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, qualifying employees are entitled to take 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave to care for a family member or handle their own medical issues.
- Military leave. Under federal law, employees can take up to five unpaid years off to serve in the military. Employers must hold their job for when they return and cannot discriminate against workers for their military service.
- Jury duty. Workers are allowed to take unpaid leave to serve on a jury and employers are not permitted to retaliate against them for taking it. This applies to all employers, with some limitations.
Firing You for Making Seeking Reasonable Accommodations
Your employer cannot fire you for making a request for reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, such as light or modified duty, reallocation of non-essential tasks, flexible scheduling, or an unpaid leave of absence.
Firing You for Refusing to Do Something Illegal
Pennsylvania and New Jersey courts have a vested interest in protecting the public interest, including shielding employees who refuse to participate in illegal activity.
Employers have been known to pressure employees to do things, such as commit perjury in trials, fail to report ethics or regulatory violations, or blow the whistle on fraud. If you refuse to do something like that, you can’t be fired for it.
Firing You for Filing for Workers’ Compensation Benefits
In Pennsylvania, it is unlawful for an employer to terminate you for filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. The protections for injured workers are even greater in New Jersey, where the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Act specifically prohibits employers from terminating, suspending, demoting, or otherwise discriminating against employees who attempt to exercise their rights under the statute.
Firing You in Retaliation For a Good Faith Complaint
Your employer is not allowed to fire you for speaking up for yourself by, for example, reporting sexual harassment, reporting discrimination in the workplace, reporting alleged differential treatment, or blowing the whistle on safety violations. This holds true even if your accusation turns out to be incorrect.
Talk to a Wrongful Termination Lawyer in Philadelphia
Do you believe you were wrongfully fired? If so, contact us to speak with one of our Philadelphia wrongful termination lawyers.
Murphy Law Group represents residents of Philadelphia and its surrounding suburbs, including residents of Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware, Chester, Berks, Lancaster, Northampton, Lehigh, Lackawanna, and Luzerne Counties, residents located in central and western Pennsylvania, as well as individuals residing in New Jersey, who have had their employment wrongfully terminated or have been retaliated against. Murphy Law Group is dedicated to protecting the rights of Pennsylvania and New Jersey workers.