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What is the legal process for a wrongful termination in Philadelphia?

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Losing a job can be a traumatic experience, but when it happens through no fault of your own, the experience can be even more devastating. Wrongful termination is a type of employment discrimination that can leave you feeling hopeless, frustrated, and uncertain about your future. If you’ve been wrongfully terminated from your job in Philadelphia, it’s important to know what options you have to hold your employer accountable. This article will outline the legal process for a wrongful termination in Philadelphia and what steps you need to take to protect your rights and seek a resolution.

Understanding Wrongful Termination in Philadelphia

Wrongful termination refers to the unlawful firing or discharge of an employee by an employer. In Philadelphia, like in many other states, employment is considered “at-will,” meaning either the employer or the employee can terminate the employment relationship at any time and for any reason, unless the termination violates an existing law or public policy. An employee who is terminated for discriminatory reasons, retaliation, or who is forced to resign due to intolerable working conditions, like harassment or discrimination, may have grounds to bring a wrongful termination claim against their employer.

Definition of Wrongful Termination

Wrongful termination refers to any discharge or termination of employment that violates a law or an explicit or implicit agreement. Some examples of wrongful termination include discrimination based on race, gender, age, disability, or religion; retaliation for whistleblowing, reporting illegal activity, or exercising your legal rights; and breach of contract or violating company policies. If you can show that your termination was based on one of these illegal factors, you may have a viable claim for wrongful termination.

Common Examples of Wrongful Termination

Some common examples of wrongful termination in Philadelphia include being fired for reasons related to a worker’s compensation claim, a refusal to engage in sexual activities, or for exercising constitutionally protected activity such as filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Additionally, under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), employers are prohibited from firing employees who take COVID-19 related leave. If you’ve been fired for any of these reasons, it’s worth speaking to an employment lawyer to determine if you have a case for wrongful termination.

Another common example of wrongful termination is when an employee is let go due to their age. Age discrimination is illegal under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which protects employees who are 40 years of age or older from discrimination based on age. If you believe you were fired because of your age, you may have a case for wrongful termination.

Furthermore, if you were terminated because of your disability, you may have a claim for wrongful termination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against employees with disabilities and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities.

Philadelphia’s Employment Laws and Protections

Philadelphia has several laws that protect employees from wrongful termination. One of these is the Philadelphia Fair Practices Ordinance, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, religion, color, national origin, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, pregnancy, ancestry, genetic information, or disability. Additionally, Pennsylvania recognizes public policy exceptions that protect employees who engage in lawful activities such as whistleblowing or reporting illegal activity from retaliation or wrongful termination.

It’s important to note that if you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, you should speak to an experienced employment lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options and can help you pursue the compensation you deserve for your losses.

Steps to Take After Experiencing Wrongful Termination

If you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated, it is essential to take specific steps to preserve your legal options:

Documenting the Termination

The first step is to document your termination by writing down everything you can remember about the events leading up to your firing, including any conversations you had with your employer. It’s also essential to collect copies of your personnel file and any emails, texts, or other evidence that support your case. Keep all of this information in a safe and secure place.

Additionally, it’s important to document the financial impact of your termination, including any lost wages, benefits, or other compensation you would have received if you had not been fired. This information will be helpful as you pursue legal action against your former employer.

Consulting with an Employment Attorney

Next, it’s essential to consult with an experienced employment attorney who can help you navigate the legal process and protect your rights. An attorney can review your case, advise you of your legal options, and help you determine the best path forward.

During your initial consultation with an attorney, be sure to provide them with all of the documentation you have collected related to your termination. This will help them evaluate the strength of your case and determine the best course of action moving forward.

Filing a Complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC)

The PHRC is a state agency that enforces Pennsylvania’s employment discrimination laws. If you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated, you can file a complaint with the agency within a 180-day window of the termination. Once you’ve filed a complaint, the agency will investigate your case, make a determination, and issue a decision.

It’s important to note that filing a complaint with the PHRC is just one step in the legal process. An experienced employment attorney can help you navigate the PHRC’s investigation and represent you in any subsequent legal proceedings.

Considering Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

In some cases, it may be possible to resolve your wrongful termination case through alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods, such as mediation or arbitration. ADR can be a faster and less expensive way to resolve disputes compared to traditional litigation.

Your employment attorney can help you evaluate whether ADR is a viable option for your case and represent you during the ADR process.

Pursuing Legal Action

If all other options have been exhausted, you may need to pursue legal action against your former employer. This could involve filing a lawsuit in state or federal court.

It’s important to note that pursuing legal action can be a lengthy and expensive process. However, with the help of an experienced employment attorney, you may be able to recover lost wages, benefits, and other compensation, as well as hold your former employer accountable for their actions.

The Legal Process for Wrongful Termination Cases

If you have been wrongfully terminated from your job, you may be entitled to compensation for lost wages, emotional distress, and other damages. However, resolving a wrongful termination case can be a complex and lengthy process. Here is a closer look at the legal process for a wrongful termination case.

Filing a Complaint with the PHRC

Before filing a lawsuit, you may want to consider filing a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC). The PHRC is a state agency that investigates claims of discrimination and harassment in the workplace. If the PHRC finds that your employer violated your rights, they may order your employer to pay damages or take other corrective action.

If your case cannot be resolved through the PHRC, you may need to file a lawsuit in court. Here are the steps involved in the legal process for a wrongful termination case:

Filing a Lawsuit in Court

To initiate a lawsuit, you or your attorney must file a complaint in court, alleging that your employer violated your legal rights. Your employer will have an opportunity to respond to your complaint by filing an answer or a motion to dismiss. If your employer files a motion to dismiss, the court will decide whether to dismiss your case or allow it to proceed.

The Discovery Process

Next comes the discovery process, where both sides gather evidence through depositions, witness statements, and other forms of discovery. During the discovery process, your attorney may request documents and information from your employer, send written questions, or request that your employer’s representatives testify under oath.

The discovery process can be time-consuming and expensive, but it is an important part of building a strong case. Your attorney will use the evidence gathered during discovery to support your claims and refute your employer’s defenses.

Mediation and Settlement Negotiations

Before going to trial, the parties may participate in mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution to try to reach a settlement. Mediation is a confidential process where a neutral third party helps the parties negotiate a resolution to the dispute. Settlement negotiations can also take place outside of mediation, with the parties exchanging settlement offers and counteroffers.

Settlement negotiations can be a good way to resolve a wrongful termination case without the time and expense of a trial. However, it is important to have an experienced attorney on your side who can help you negotiate a fair settlement.

Going to Trial

If the parties cannot agree on settlement terms, the case will proceed to trial. During the trial, both sides will present evidence and testimony. The judge or jury will make a decision based on the law and the facts presented at the trial.

Going to trial can be stressful and expensive, but it may be necessary to obtain the compensation you deserve. Your attorney will work to present a compelling case to the judge or jury, using the evidence gathered during discovery and the testimony of witnesses.

Overall, the legal process for a wrongful termination case can be lengthy and complex. However, with the help of an experienced attorney, you can navigate the process and fight for your rights in the workplace.

Potential Outcomes and Remedies for Wrongful Termination

If you have successfully proven your case, some outcomes and remedies for wrongful termination may include the following:


If you were wrongfully terminated, reinstatement is often the first remedy considered by the courts. This means that you are returned to the same employment position you held before you were wrongfully terminated and your employer is required to pay you back pay since the date of termination.

Back Pay and Lost Wages

Back pay refers to the amount of money you lost as a result of your termination, such as lost wages, benefits, and bonuses. The court may award you back pay as part of a judgment.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are damages awarded for any mental or emotional distress you may have suffered as a result of the wrongful termination. These damages are intended to compensate you for any harm that resulted from the termination.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are designed to punish the employer for their illegal conduct. These damages are usually only awarded in cases of particularly egregious or intentional wrongdoing.

If you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated in Philadelphia, it’s essential to take the necessary steps to protect your rights and hold your employer accountable for their actions. While the process can be lengthy and complex, an experienced employment attorney can help guide you through the process and ensure the best possible outcome for your case.

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