Wrongful Termination

Pennsylvania Wrongful Termination Law – The Public Policy Exception

At-Will Employment in PA

Pennsylvania is an at-will employment state. This means that absent a contractual or statutory obligation, employers can terminate employees for any reason, so long as the termination does not violate federal or state laws preventing discrimination or harassment in the workplace. Learn more about discrimination and harassment law. Please contact our Philadelphia employment lawyers for a free consultation about a workplace discrimination or harassment case. (215) 545-8917

Related Post: Compensation for Workplace Discrimination, Harassment & Wrongful Termination Cases

The Public Policy Exception

it is well established that Pennsylvania employers may not terminate an employee when doing so violates public policy. However, this public policy exception tends to be rather limited.

Pennsylvania courts will only apply this exception in limited situations, where the employer engages in any of the following:

  1. forces the employee to engage in criminal conduct,
  2. prevents or prohibits the employee from complying with a legal duty, or
  3. fires the employee when a law specifically prohibits the firing.

Below are examples of situations where an employee would have a valid wrongful termination claim based on the public policy exception.

  • A restaurant worker in Philadelphia is told to zero out any customer checks that are paid in cash and hand the cash over to the employer. When the worker refuses, they are fired on the spot.
  • A teacher in Allentown is fired after she reported child abuse of a student by another teacher at the school. Pennsylvania law mandates that certain employees report child abuse to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.
  • A bartender in Delaware County is fired after refusing to serve a visibly drunk customer, which would violate Pennsylvania’s dram shop laws.
  • A retail worker in Philadelphia is fired after filing for workers’ compensation benefits due to a work accident.

Koller Law Firm’s Latest Employment Law Case – Expanding the Public Policy Exception

In June 2022, Koller Law won the first round in a wrongful termination case where we allege our clients were fired for refusing to report to work, where doing so violated a mandatory government shut-down order during the initial stages of the COVID pandemic in 2020.

Shortly after filing the complaint, the employer filed Preliminary Objections, seeking to have the case dismissed based on the restrictive nature of the public policy exception. A judge in Monroe County agreed with Koller Law and dismissed the employer’s objections. The case will proceed, and Koller Law employment lawyers are confident in ultimately resolving the case in favor of our clients. Click here for the June 2022 Opinion and Order.

About Koller Law Firm – Phila. Employment Law Firm

Firm founder David Koller is no ordinary employment lawyer. As the founder of Koller Law Firm, David prides himself on being a true advocate for his clients. He makes business decisions for the firm based on what’s in his clients’ best interests and routinely pushes the envelope when it comes to making novel legal arguments.

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