Most employment in the United States is at-will, which means that employees may leave their jobs for any reason and may also be fired for any reason, with few exceptions. Some of those exceptions are discrimination, whistleblowing, and retaliation. If an employee is fired for these reasons, they may file a claim for wrongful termination. Also, a claim for wrongful termination may be brought if the firing breaches a private contract or violates a collective bargaining agreement. Along with federal laws, the Pennsylvania Whistleblower Law protects employees from wrongful termination.
Pennsylvania’s Whistleblower Statute Protections
Whistleblowing is when an employee reports illegal activity that occurs at work to the appropriate authorities. Employees are protected from retaliation for reporting in good faith to draw attention to certain illegal behavior. An employer may not fire an employee for reporting or filing a report or claim involving illegal activity. Nor may the employer retaliate by cutting the employee’s hours, threatening or harassing the employee, suspending the employee, withholding pay, or otherwise discriminate against the employee.
Examples of the protections provided to employees by the Pennsylvania Whistleblower Act are as follows:
- An employee may not be fired for reporting abuse and neglect.
- An employee cannot be discharged for complaining about a violation of a commercial motor vehicle safety rule or for refusing to operate a vehicle that does not comply with safety regulations.
- An employee may not be fired in retaliation for voicing an objection to an unlawful discriminatory practice or for participating in an investigation or proceeding under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, which prohibits discrimination.
- An employee may not be fired for lodging a complaint or exercising a right under Pennsylvania’s Worker and Community Right-to-Know Act, which relates to hazardous substances in the workplace.
- An employee may not be retaliated against for refusing to work overtime in the healthcare industry.
- An employee may not be fired in retaliation for testifying in a proceeding under Pennsylvania’s Minimum Wage Act or Equal Pay Law.
Filing a Whistleblower or Retaliation Claim
It is extremely important to note that a lawsuit claiming wrongful discharge by retaliation must be filed within two years of the retaliatory action, unless a statute states otherwise. For example, a claim made under Pennsylvania’s Whistleblower Law must be filed within 180 days of the firing or other adverse action resulting from the whistleblowing activity. Damages available under the Whistleblower Act include back pay, reinstatement or front pay, expenses you incurred because of being wrongfully terminated, benefits and seniority rights, actual damages, and attorney fees. Punitive damages may also be recoverable in certain cases.
Chester County Whistleblower Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Advocate for Victims of Wrongful Termination
If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated for refusing to engage in illegal behavior, or for reporting the illegal behavior of others, contact Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. at 215-569-1999 or submit our online contact form. Our Chester County whistleblower lawyers will help you file a claim and seek the justice you deserve. We are centrally located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and proudly serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.