Philadelphia Employment Law News

How At-Will Employment Works in Pennsylvania

Most workers in Pennsylvania are considered at-will employees.

This basically means that you have no legal right to keep your job. So unless you have an employment contract that guarantees your job for a specified period of time, you can be fired for any valid reason.

And employers generally have no obligation to give you any advance notice. So they could, in fact, tell you to pack your bags today.

Many employees are surprised to learn that they have no right to their job. In fact, many workers assume they have some statutory entitlement to continue working. However, for the large swath of non-union workers, this is not true. But just because an employer can fire you for any legal reason, the key is that the reason still must be legal.

When Termination Violates the Law

Termination of an at-will employee violates the law when employers fire them for discriminatory reasons. For example, just because employees are at-will, this does not mean you can terminate them for being black, female, disabled, or any other protected characteristic. This would be considered illegal harassment, and employers could be sued. In many wrongful termination actions, employees do claim that the reason they were fired was due to a protected reason, even if an allegedly "neutral" reason is offered.

Besides discrimination, workers often bring wrongful termination claims based on accrued job rights outside of a collective bargaining agreement. This can include workers who were offered verbal promises that their jobs would only be eliminated under particular circumstances, or workers who were promised some duration of employment. These promises are often given to high-level employees and usually are promised at the interview.

If you believe that you have been terminated for an illegal reason, you may want to contact a Philadelphia employment attorney. Just remember that if you're at-will, you may have no rights to your job.

Related Resources: