Philadelphia Employment Law News

How to Fire an Employee in Philadelphia

Do you know a business that has some employees that are not holding up their end of the bargain? Perhaps there is a business that needs to close and it has some employees that need to be let go first. In any case, here is a quick checklist before the business owner goes down the hall and pretends to be Donald Trump on “The Apprentice.”

Knowing that Philadelphia is an “at will” locale means that the business owner most likely only need concern himself or herself with a few simple checks.

  • Does the employee have an employment contract?

The business owner must make sure that they are not breaching a contract by ending employment. Contracts have terms that are for a specified time or that might limit the reasons for ending employment, such as for "good cause".

  • Is the only reason for termination an illegal one?

Wrongful termination is often based on the breach of a civil rights law by the employer. To be more specific, an employer cannot fire someone because they are a woman, or Native American, or disabled.

Pennsylvania allows for a lawsuit to be filed if the employee was fired for a reason that goes against the state's public policy. In simple terms, an employee cannot be fired for obeying the law. For example, if there is a law forbidding drug tests for continued employment, a person cannot be fired for refusing to take that drug test.

Once the business owner has made sure there it is legal to fire the employee, then they need to assure that the termination goes smoothly.

There are a few steps that need to be taken at the time of firing or directly after.

Failure to pay a final paycheck can be a headache for a business owner, especially if they do not get it to the employee within 30 days of the last payday. If it is not received within 30 days, the owner may be liable for the wages, court fees, attorney fees, and an extra $500 for failure to pay wages.

If the employee was eligible for health care coverage while an employee, they must be offered COBRA. COBRA is continuing coverage that is required by federal law to be offered to those eligible employees.

These steps will help assure a smooth transition. Good luck!

This post is part of FindLaw's Legal U series. We are working to help you learn what to do in your city to cope with some of the legal problems, questions, or issues that come up in daily life. Please come back to learn more from future posts in this series.

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