Navigating Employment Law in Pennsylvania

By: Laurie A. McCarthy, Esquire

Employment laws play a crucial role in safeguarding the rights of workers and ensuring fair treatment in the workplace. For those employed in Pennsylvania, understanding the specific regulations and protections provided by state law is essential. Below are some of the key aspects of employment law in Pennsylvania that both employers and employees should be aware of.

At-Will Employment

Pennsylvania, like many states in the U.S., follows the doctrine of at-will employment. This means that, in the absence of an employment contract specifying otherwise, employers have the right to terminate employees for any reason that is not illegal, and employees have the right to leave their job for any reason without consequence.

However, there are important exceptions to the at-will doctrine:

  • Public Policy Exceptions: Employers cannot terminate an employee for reasons that violate public policy. This includes terminating an employee for reporting illegal activity, for refusing to engage in illegal activities, or for taking legally entitled leave, such as jury duty or military service.
  • Implied Contracts: Verbal assurances, employee handbooks, or company policies may create implied contracts that modify the at-will relationship. If an employer breaches these implied contracts, the employee may have legal recourse.

Discrimination and Harassment Protections

Pennsylvania prohibits workplace discrimination and harassment based on protected characteristics, such as:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Age (40 and over)
  • Sex
  • Disability
  • Pregnancy
  • Sexual orientation

Employees who experience discrimination or harassment based on any of these protected characteristics have the right to file a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Family and Medical Leave

Under the Pennsylvania Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), eligible employees have the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period for the following reasons:

  • The birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child
  • To care for a family member with a serious health condition
  • For the employee’s own serious health condition

Employers with 50 or more employees are required to provide FMLA leave to eligible employees.


There are many other nuances to navigating employment law in Pennsylvania which require a solid understanding of the state’s regulations and protections. Whether you are an employer ensuring compliance with labor laws or an employee seeking to understand your rights in the workplace, familiarity with these key aspects of Pennsylvania employment law is essential.

The Law Firm of DiOrio & Sereni, LLP is a full-service law firm in Media, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. We strive to help people, businesses and institutions throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania solve legal problems – and even prevent legal problems before they occur.  To learn more about the full range of our specific practice areas, please visit or contact Laurie A. McCarthy, Esquire at 610-565-5700 or at [email protected].


The information that our blogs provide does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information is for general informational purposes only.  Information in our blogs may not constitute the most up-to-date information. Readers of our blogs should contact a qualified attorney to obtain legal advice with respect to any particular legal matter. No reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information in our blogs without first seeking legal advice from a qualified attorney. Only the reader’s own attorney can provide assurances that the information contained in our blogs – and any interpretation of it – is applicable or appropriate to the reader’s particular legal issue. Use of, and access to, the information in our blogs does not create, and is not intended to create, an attorney-client relationship between the reader and our law firm or our blog authors. 

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The Law Firm of DiOrio & Sereni, LLP, is located in Media, PA and serves clients in and around Media, Glen Riddle Lima, Brookhaven, Wallingford, Newtown Square, Lenni, Springfield, Swarthmore, Chester, Aston, Bryn Mawr, Morton, Woodlyn, Broomall, Gradyville, Folsom, Chester Heights, Crum Lynne, Glen Mills, Marcus Hook, Ridley Park, Drexel Hill, Marple, Bethel, Garnet Valley, Chadds Ford Concord, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County.

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