There are many complexities in employment law, and, like all states, Pennsylvania has its own special approach to protecting the rights of employees. The first thing to know about employment in Pennsylvania is that, according to the state of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania is an at-will employment state.
Basically, unless you are employed under a specific contract or something similar, an employer can fire an employee without documented reasoning. While this may make it seem like an employer can fire an employee for any reason under the sun, this is not true.
There are certain groups that are protected under both federal and Pennsylvania employment laws. It is illegal for an employer to fire an employee for any of the following reasons: gender, religion, pregnancy, disability, age (if the employee is over 40), race, or if the employee is a whistle-blower (somebody that has brought illegal activities on the part of an employer to the attention of authorities).
If you believe that you have been terminated due to possessing one of the above characteristics, then it is possible that you have been wrongfully terminated and are entitled to compensation as a result. In addition to the above characteristics, you are also protected from being terminated if you engage in certain activities. These activities can include taking medical leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, filing a complaint regarding sexual discrimination or harassment, or filing a worker’s compensation claim.
If you believe you have suffered wrongful termination, the first step is to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In the event that the EEOC finds that you have been wrongfully terminated, you will receive a letter giving you the right to sue your employer.