Pennsylvania Employment Laws

An experienced Pennsylvania employment law attorney frequently represents client when there is a violation of a Pennsylvania employment law that protects employees. Employment lawyers also consult with employees with regard to documents that govern the employee employer relationship and provide advice when questions arise concerning an employee’s rights. At Abramson Employment Law, we are frequently called upon to represent employees at the commencement of the employment, during the time when an employee remains employed and at the termination of employment.

Employers frequently present employees with documents that may greatly impact an employee’s rights at all stages of an employment relationship. These documents include employment contracts, noncompete agreements (also known as, restrictive covenants) and severance agreements. Noncompete agreements place significant restrictions on an employee’s future employment prospects and are also sometimes inserted into severance agreements. Execution of each of these employment documents places restrictions on what jobs an employee may be able to do in the future and the employers with whom an employee can work in the future for certain periods of time. It is critical that before an employee signs any of these types of documents that the employee have an experienced employment law attorney review all relevant facts and the documents in order to determine any impact that signing a document could have on an employee’s future.

Pennsylvania is an employment at will jurisdiction which means that an employer can terminate an employee for any reason or no reason at all, unless there is a specific Pennsylvania law, or federal law, that protects the employee’s particular situation, or the employee and employer have signed an employment contract that provides an employee with certain rights, such as employment for a certain length of time. What Pennsylvania laws provide protection which are an exception to the employment at will doctrine? There are several Pennsylvania laws which provide protection to employees. For instance, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act protects employees from discrimination on the basis of an employee’s age, race, religion, national origin, color, sex, physical handicap (disability) or ancestry.

Pennsylvania Courts have also recognized a public policy exception to the employment at will doctrine. In order for a terminated employee to pursue a wrongful discharge claim, the employee must show that the termination constitutes violation of a public policy mandate contained within an administrative regulation, legislation, the constitution, or a court decision. There are a limited number of reported Pennsylvania decisions in which courts have found a public policy creating an exception to the employment at will doctrine, allowing an employee to proceed with a wrongful discharge claim. One case often cited in Pennsylvania is Shick v. Shirey, where the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found that if an employee is terminated for pursuing an unemployment compensation claim, the employee may have a viable wrongful termination claim. Other cases that have recognized a public policy exception to the employment at will doctrine in Pennsylvania include an employee being terminated for not being at work when the employee was serving on jury duty; an employee being terminated for reporting the employer’s illegal activity; an employee is terminated because the employee refuses to perform an illegal act; an employer terminates an employee in retaliation for filing an unemployment compensation claim; an employer terminates an employee because the employee advised the employer that the employee would be reporting safety violations to OSHA; an employee refusing to lie to state or federal investigators; a bartender terminated for refusing to serving a visibility intoxicated person an alcoholic beverage; and a paralegal terminated for testifying against a supervising attorney.

Pennsylvania employment laws also provide certain protections to employees in terms of an employees’ wages and benefits. The Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act requires that employers pay employees overtime pay when an employee works more than 40 hours per week. The Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law requires that employers timely pay employees and former employees all earned wages, salary, commission and benefits; if an employer fails to do so an employer is liable for additional damages. Pennsylvania also has an Equal Pay Law that requires that men and women be paid the same pay for the same job. Certain commissioned sales representatives also have protection under the Pennsylvania Commissioned Sales Representative Law. In certain circumstances, health care workers are protected against working excessive overtime hours udne the Pennsylvania Prohibition of Excessive Overtime in Health Care Act.

Andrew Abramson is an experienced Philadelphia employment lawyer who has represented Pennsylvania employees in all types of employment law claims. For more information on Pennsylvania employment laws click the following links…

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