In this economic climate, finding candidates to fill vital positions within a company can be challenging. Nevertheless, sometimes companies need to dismiss employees. Since Pennsylvania is an at-will employment state, an employer can fire an employee with or without cause at any time as long as the reasons are not discriminatory or a violation of the employee’s rights. Examples of unlawful dismissals include those based on race, gender, age, and other constitutionally protected rights. Conversely, the employee is entitled to quit or resign for any reason or no reason at all as well.
If the employee believes they were mistreated, they may file a wrongful termination lawsuit against their former employer. This can disrupt the company, particularly if the employee was a key figure. It also leads to unanticipated legal costs. Whatever the case, companies need to take these claims seriously.
These reasons can hold up in court
It is essential for employers to keep accurate and detailed records of their employees’ performance. It is also helpful to review the documents and highlight any issues of concern regarding the employee’s performance. There should also be organizational handbooks that outline expectations and contracts that outline their specific duties. These can all contribute to a strong case of “firing for a cause”:
- Gross misconduct: This can involve exhibiting violent or intimidating behavior towards a colleague, manager or customer. It can also involve not following safety protocols, thus endangering the safety of others.
- Poor performance: This is why keeping records of the employee’s performance is essential. Employers can use documentation to show that the employee did not meet reasonable goals met by others or improve their output over time.
- Alcohol or substance abuse: Employers can dismiss those who use or abuse alcohol or drugs while on the job because it affects job performance and could lead to injuries to themselves or others.
Legal guidance provides insight
The laws can be confusing or seemingly contradictory in protecting both employer and employee rights. Those with questions about a potential lawsuit can discuss the matter with an experienced litigator who handles business disputes.