Employers may require that employees leave a two-week notice before quitting. Additionally, most companies have progressive disciplinary procedures that lead up to being fired. Disciplinary policies could include; verbal warnings, written warnings, probation, suspension, etc. Regardless, can an employer legally terminate a worker’s employment without notice? Yes, under the right conditions.
Employment is an agreement between employer and employee. If either party decides that the employment arrangement is no longer serving their needs, the work agreement can be dissolved without notice.
“At will” employment in Pennsylvania
Like many other states, Pennsylvania is an “at-will” employment state. What does this mean for workers? According to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, either employee or employer can terminate the work agreement at any time, with or without cause.
Exceptions to being fired without notice
An employment contract or other statutory right that stipulates otherwise can change “at-will” employment status. If the employment contract stipulates a length of employment, such as 1 year, then the employer can only fire the employee with “just cause.” Just cause means being fired or terminated for not satisfactorily fulfilling job duties or behavior that is against employment rules or code of conduct.
At-will employment laws are similar to “no-fault” divorce laws. If either party feels that the arrangement is no longer desirable, then it can be dissolved without liability or cause.
Dismissal or termination of employees cannot occur for retaliation or any discriminatory reasons. This includes retaliation or whistleblowing or discrimination based on age, sex, national origin, religion, disability, etc.
Working through employment issues
It is important to listen to instincts. If an employee feels that they have been wrongly terminated, then consulting with legal counsel that is experienced in Pennsylvania’s employment laws can help protect employee’s rights.