Employment Law FAQ

Helping Answer Employment Law Questions in Pittsburgh

Employees and employers are typically involved in an at-will relationship. This means that either an employee or an employer can terminate the employment relationship at any time. Certain exceptions do apply, however. Job loss cannot be the result of discrimination, or employer retaliation against an employee who brings to light illegal activity in the workplace.

While the law is clearly outlined, it is not always easy to determine whether or not an employee's rights have been violated. The Law Office of Melvin L. Vatz, in Pittsburgh can help answer your questions, understand your rights, and take action in your employment law claim.

Review the following frequently asked questions in employment law, or contact our office directly toarrange a free initial consultation and learn more about your options.

When is a supervisor's behavior considered sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment can come in many forms, but one common thread between various types is that the behavior causes a hostile work environment for the employee or employees. Sexual harassment can be as obvious as a boss requesting an employee perform sexual favors in exchange for a promotion, or as subtle as suggestive comments about an employee's body or clothing. One-off comments are not likely enough to warrant a claim, but if they are frequent and pervasive enough to make going to work intimidating, the employer may be in violation of worker rights.

Is firing an employee for poor work performance after he or she is diagnosed with an illness or disability an employment law violation?

It is unlawful for an employee to be fired or demoted because of his or her disability or illness. No employer will ever say an employee was terminated because of a disability or illness. Instead, they will cite instances of poor work performance to cover up the real reason. The employee's work performance records, accommodations made (or not made) for his or her disability, correspondence between managers and the employee, and the timeliness of the job loss will all need to be investigated to determine if wrongful termination took place. Every case is different and warrants attention from an experienced attorney.

If an employee finds out about illegal activity at work, should he or she talk to a supervisor or talk to a lawyer?

An employee who witnesses discrimination, harassment, wage and hour violations, or even white collar crimes like embezzlement may feel compelled (or is compelled by law) to come forward. When an employee brings to light illegal activity at work, he or she is protected as a whistleblower. The employee cannot lawfully be fired for drawing attention to wrongdoing in the workplace. Still, many employees feel intimidated or threatened about coming forward to supervisors or managers at work because they fear retaliation.

We recommend that employees who are concerned about their rights as a whistleblower speak with an attorney before talking to a manager at work. This way, the employee can determine whether or not the claim is warranted and has a clear record of his or her concerns before an employer even has the chance to retaliate.