Pennsylvania common law protects employees from discharges that violate public policy, but what violates public policy isn’t defined.
Courts must therefore decide what the term means. For example, the term has led to a finding that firing someone for making a workers’ compensation claim violates public policy.
The good news is that courts appear reluctant to expand the law to cover many other circumstances.
Recent case: Donna Henderson claimed she was fired from her job with NutriSystem because she was ill and needed to be off work. She had a cold. Because she didn’t call in properly, the company fired her.
She sued, arguing that she had been terminated in violation of public policy. The court refused to expand the law to cover being fired for having a minor illness. (Henderson v. NutriSystem, No. 08-592, ED PA, 2009)
- WIU settles with coach who was fired after cancer diagnosis
- HR's uneven response to graffiti and swastikas: 'Close' counts in horseshoes ... not harassment
- Favoring older applicants: Is it discrimination?
- Worried about firing the only minority employee?
- How to turn the tables on lawsuit-happy employees