- Employment-at-will is difficult to overcome in Pennsylvania courts.Spire image by Kaushik Raha from Fotolia.com
Laws regulating Pennsylvania employment range from the state's labor laws to provisions contained in the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act). Employers who violate the employees' rights are subject to punishment. Violations of the state's employment laws include discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination.
- Pennsylvania is an at-will employment state, which means the law allows termination of an employee for any reason and at any time provided the reason is not protected by law. Examples of protected categories are religion, national origin, disability, age, race and sex.
There are exceptions, such as employees who are under contract. Employers may terminate these employees only for reasons stipulated in their employment contracts.
The law allows employees to challenge the at-will doctrine under certain circumstances. For example, according to Lawyers.com, an employee who can establish some tenure of employment might successfully challenge the at-will doctrine.
- Under Pennsylvania law, employers may be liable for all incidents of sexual harassment that occur in the workplace. Although sexual harassment can be broadly defined depending on the circumstances, Lawyers.com notes sexual harassment is generally considered any unwelcome sexual advances, conduct or other physical or verbal acts of a sexual nature that occur in the workplace.
In Pennsylvania, an overly sexual work environment may represent a hostile work environment, which qualifies as sexual harassment.
- Pennsylvania law, as provided in the state's general safety law, No. 174, requires employers to provide a workplace that is safe. The law defines a safe workplace as one that is free from any recognizable hazard likely to cause serious physical injury or death.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations for private-sector employees preempt this statute. As a result, the state's general safety law, No. 174 is applicable only to public-sector employees.
- Pursuant to Pennsylvania Code 43 §1421, employers may not retaliate against employees who report a violation in the workplace to state authorities. Under this code, an employer "cannot discharge, threaten, retaliate, or otherwise discriminate if an employee responds to official request or because employee or representative reports or is about to report a violation or waste."
This provision is applicable to both public and private employees in the state.