The general rule of employment law is that workers can be fired for any reason that is not specifically illegal, unless they are covered by a union contract or by public employee civil service law. This is called “employment at will.” It is sometimes stated that an employee at will can be fired for “a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all.”
However, there are many exceptions to employment at will. The most important exceptions include:
• Laws against illegal discrimination (such as discrimination based on race, sex, national origin, disability, age, religion);
• Laws permitting workers to take family and medical leave without being fired;
• Laws prohibiting employers from firing people who exercise their legal rights (such as to be paid their wages).
For workers covered by union contracts or civil service rules, an employer normally must have a “good cause” reason to fire them after their probation is over. They can fight their terminations, through a union grievance or a civil service hearing.
This page links to documents that explain employment law overall and some specific employment laws (such as the discrimination laws).
The following documents and links will explain common employment law issues often faced by low income workers and the unemployed.
1. "Employment Rights: An Overview" - a booklet covering a range of employment law issues
2. Workers’ rights handbook for immigrant workers
Download pdf version in English
Download pdf version in Spanish
3. Tips for job-seekers with disabilities
4. Tips for employees with disabilities
5. Employment issues for people with criminal records
a. "Your rights not to be rejected based on your criminal record" - see how state law and federal discrimination law limit employers' rights to turn down ex-offenders
b. For more information on the legal issues about employment of people with criminal records, click here
6. For more information about illegal employment discrimination, click here for a link to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
7. For more information about preserving your job if your family member or you are sick or you have a baby, click here
8. Contacts for enforcement agencies in PA