Most workers have jobs in which they have vertical relationships with their supervisors or managers. This means that you report to your supervisor, and your supervisor has the authority to make decisions, including whether to terminate your job. If you have been fired for insubordination, you might wonder whether your employer was allowed to take that action under the law. Swartz Swidler can assist you in determining whether or not your employer’s actions were lawful.
At-will employment vs. employment contracts
Pennsylvania is an at-will employment state, which means that employers are generally allowed to terminate the jobs of workers for any reason and at any time. You also have the right to quit your job whenever you want. However, there are some limits to your employer’s power to fire you.
If your employer fires you for an unlawful, discriminatory reason because of your membership in a protected group, your employer may have violated federal and state anti-discrimination laws. If your employer simply fired you for insubordination, and the reason was not discriminatory in nature, your termination was likely legal.
If you instead have an employment contract, your contract should contain provisions about the grounds for termination and the process leading up to a firing decision. If your employer failed to follow its own contract, your firing may be unlawful.
Insubordination that must result in terminations
Certain acts of insubordination will always result in terminations, including the following:
- Criminal acts
- Assaulting or injuring coworkers intentionally
- Sexual abuse of coworkers or customers
In cases like these, your employer can definitely terminate your job.
Insubordination as a pretext
Some employers will claim that they fired workers for insubordination when the true reasons were illegal. For example, if an employer wants to fire someone for taking FMLA leave, the employer might claim that the employee was insubordinate after he or she has returned to work. Another example might be a claim by an employer that you were insubordinate when you are actually being fired in retaliation for filing a discrimination complaint. These types of pretextual terminations are unlawful because the underlying reasons for the terminations are unlawful.
Talk to an experienced employment lawyer at Swartz Swidler
If your employer fired you for insubordination, you might have legal rights if the true reason was unlawful or if your firing was in violation of your employment contract. Talk to the lawyers at Swartz Swidler to learn more by calling us or filling out our contact form.