Pennsylvania is an at-will employment state, making it easy for your employer to dismiss you without a second thought. The best thing to do in this situation is to get the help of a lawyer to determine whether you have the right to make a legal claim when you lose your job. Many factors affect the right to file a claim. If you belong to a protected class, or if you are fired after asserting your legal rights, you might have a case. Still, it’s important not to make one of the following mistakes, which could make it difficult or impossible to succeed.
- You signed a severance agreement, waiving your right to sue in exchange for severance pay. Usually, the human resources department prepares a package of legal forms in the termination process. They will most likely request that you sign in order to receive a final paycheck. The law requires that you be allowed time to consult a lawyer before signing these forms.
- When faced with harassment, you leave your job. In most cases, if you feel that you are the victim of discrimination, workplace harassment, or sexual harassment, and you quit your job, you lose the legal right to make a claim. Only in extreme cases, in which the harassment or hostile environment is quite obvious but the company does not take the necessary measures to stop it, can you try to take them to court.
- It’s hard to prove a case of sexual harassment. Let’s assume everything is going well until your boss starts to make sexual advances and you refuse. After that, you can’t seem to get a good performance evaluation. You aren’t promoted, and with time, you’re fired. Technically, you have a right to make a claim, but it will be your word against your employer’s. One thing that will help enormously is a journal relating the incidents—when and where they occurred. It will be of great assistance to have witnesses willing to testify or confirm information.
- The time established by the statute of limitations has run out. The Pennsylvania statute of limitations allows two years for filing a claim after your dismissal. If you do no file a claim during the time allowed, it will not matter how weighty your case is: you will not be able to sue.
If your dismissal was unjustified or at least you believe that to be the case, we advise you to request your free consultation so that we can review your case and advise you. If you have not yet been fired, but you think your dismissal is forthcoming, you can still meet with our employment attorneys free of cost.