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Is Pennsylvania an at-will employment state?

On Behalf of | Nov 18, 2021 | employment contracts |

Workers in Pennsylvania have certain rights when it comes to employment. However, the state does offer employment on an at-will basis in many instances, as explained by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

Understanding the nature of at-will employment and how it affects workers is crucial to protecting your rights in the workplace. Here are a few things to keep in mind should you face termination.

What does at-will employment mean?

In at-will employment states, employers do not need to provide a reason for terminating a person’s employment. They also do not need to provide prior notice before the firing takes place. In the same respect, employees can resign from their positions any time they see fit and without cause.

Are there exceptions to at-will employment?

Yes, provided an employment contract exists between the employee and the employer. In this case, the employer must adhere to the terms stated in the contract when it comes to firings. For example, if the contract specifies a certain period of time, any terminations that occur before time is up must have a just cause. This can include things like an inability to perform work duties or drug use at work.

What other rules govern firings in the state?

Employers cannot fire a worker for discriminatory reasons, regardless of the worker’s employment status. This includes reasons based on age, nationality, sex, race, religion, or disability. If an employer fires a worker based on one of these reasons, the worker can file a wrongful termination claim against them.

There are also laws that dictate how employers must approach mass layoffs. In this case, the employer must inform workers of the layoff or closing at least 60 days prior to it taking place. Employers that fail to do so may face significant penalties depending on the situation.