Pennsylvania follows at-will employment law. This means that absent an employment contract, the relationship between employer and employee are at-will. In such a relationship, the employer or the employee can legally terminate the employment at any time and for any reason, so long as the firing is not illegal. Therefore, proving wrongful termination in Pennsylvania can sometimes be difficult
Even when the employment is based on a contract between the employer and the worker, the employment may still be at-will. Depending on whether the employment contract states the terms for termination, then the employee or the employer may be held liable if they violate the contract terms. If no contract exists between the parties, then Pennsylvania employment authorities will presume that the employment is at-will.
What Are the Exceptions to the At-Will Rule?
There are some exceptions to the at-will rule. For example, if a Pennsylvania employer fires an employee for discriminatory reasons, a breach of employment contract, or in retaliation for exercising their employee rights, a Pennsylvania employee may have a legal claim against the employer. For discriminatory purposes, Pennsylvania employers cannot discriminate based on race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, religion, disability, age, marital status, AIDS/HIV, or sickle cell trait.
Under federal law, employers cannot fire an employee based on a protected characteristic such as race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, religion, age, disability, and citizenship status.