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Lehigh Valley Pennsylvania

Employment Litigation

Court

Litigation Services

Leeson & Leeson handles all aspects of civil trial and appellate practice. As the Lehigh Valley's premier litigation attorney, Joseph F. Leeson, III represents both Plaintiffs and Defendants in Pennsylvania state and federal courts. From the initiation of a lawsuit through all stages of appellate procedure, Leeson & Leeson is prepared to litigate your case to its conclusion. Below are some primary areas of litigation that Leeson and Leeson is prepared to handle:

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Employment Litigation

Employment litigation encompasses the area of law governing employer-employee disputes. Labor and Employment law is governed by a complex network of federal, state, and local laws. As a result, each matter requires a separate analysis. Employment litigation is also unique because it can involve sensitive personal information and can occur during an ongoing employment relationship. Achieving good outcomes requires technical, legal, and interpersonal skills. Legal counsel is necessary to establish the optimal legal strategy when an investigation or lawsuit becomes inevitable.

Most states have “at-will” employment laws. At-will employment is an employer's ability to dismiss an employee without having to establish "just cause" and without warning, as long as the reason is not illegal. However, there are laws that also place limitations on that right.

  1. Employment contract. Contracts should lay out the terms of employment and explain when an employer can terminate the employee. If the employer violates the contract, the employee may have grounds for a lawsuit.

  2. Anti-discrimination laws. Laws prohibit employers from terminating people because of their race, sex, religion, or other protected characteristic.

  3. Whistleblower protections. Employers cannot terminate a worker as retaliation for blowing the whistle on illegal conduct.

  4. Public policy. Certain public policies prevent firing someone. For example, most states prohibit termination because the employee refused to break the law.

 

Damages for a wrongful termination typically encompass reinstatement of your old job and back pay and lost employee benefits. The wronged party may also have grounds to seek further compensatory damages for emotional distress.

There are federal and state laws prohibiting discrimination in employment based on certain protected characteristics, including the following:

  • Race Discrimination
    Race is a protected characteristic. An employer cannot consider race when taking a negative employment action. All races are protected against discrimination;

  • Sex Discrimination
    No employer can discriminate based on sex, including pregnancy. Sex discrimination also includes expecting people to conform to certain gender stereotypes, such as how they dress. All genders are protected by sex discrimination.

  • Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
    In the landmark 2020 case, Bostock v. Clayton County, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Title VII, the federal civil rights anti-discrimination law, protects sexual orientation and gender identity. Many states have already prohibited this discrimination, but now protection extends nationwide.

  • Disability
    The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prevents employers from treating employees or applicants negatively because of certain physical or mental disabilities. This disability discrimination law also protects workers who have a close relationship with a disabled person, such as a spouse.
    This prohibition applies during job interviews, training, and employment. For example, visually impaired workers might need special training materials created so they can gain the benefit of any training.

  • Age
    Various laws outlaw age discrimination. Under federal law, however, only workers over age 40 are protected. So it is not illegal to discriminate against someone for being too young. Many state laws apply to all workers, even those under 40.
    Age discrimination law does not guarantee that employers hire the most experienced applicant. Employers can consider many factors, such as more up-to-date training or skills, which might favor younger workers. As with other forms of discrimination, sometimes a job requires a younger person. A movie producer looking to cast the role of a 12-year-old girl in a film has not committed employment discrimination by refusing to consider 40-year-old actors.

  • Other Protected Characteristics
    Other protected characteristics under federal law include:

    • National origin;

    • Genetic information; and

    • Many states offer broader protections than federal laws. Some states, for example, consider the following as protected characteristics:

      • ​​Military service;

      • Marital status;

      • Political opinion; and

      • Religion.

Disparate Impact Discrimination Lawsuits
A discrimination claim does not need to be solely based on a singular act of intentional discrimination. Policies or regulations of an employer that appear neutral on their face but, when enacted, have a disproportionate impact on a protected class of people, will trigger a violation of anti-discrimination laws. It is important to note that an employer's policy that creates a disparate impact is not illegal if the requirement is reasonably job related and consistent with business necessity. Some common examples of discriminatory employer policies are the following:

  •  Discriminatory Dress Code and Grooming Policies;

  • Forced Retirements;

  •  Employees Compelled to Participate in Religious Observances and Holidays;

  • Policies That Pregnant Workers Will Be Terminated; and

  • Policies of Only Hiring U.S. Citizens. 

Whistleblowers & Retaliation Lawsuits
There are many state and federal laws in place that protect whistleblowers from retaliation by their employers. Most illegal conduct is brought to light by brave whistleblowers. These individuals expose illegal activity by reporting wrongful conduct to government agencies or the media.
Unsurprisingly, many businesses retaliate against these whistleblowers through demotions or terminating their employment.
As a result, there is a network of state and federal laws established to protect whistleblowers. States’ whistleblower laws can vary from each other, with some protecting more whistleblowing activity than others. In order to fully understand your writes as a whistleblower, it is important to meet with a Leeson & Leeson attorney to review your rights.

Over fifty years ago the Leeson law practice was built on three fundamental pillars that continue to guide the law firm today: the deliberate commitment to the growth and development of others, an unwavering dedication to integrity, and a dedication to strong work ethic. Clients who seek legal services from Leeson & Leeson will be provided with legal services that meet, or exceed, the levels of proficiency that the Leeson family has maintained for the last fifty years.

Leeson & Leeson represents people throughout all of Eastern Pennsylvania, including those in Lehigh, Northampton, Bucks, Schuylkill, Carbon, and Monroe counties. Leeson & Leeson's law office is conveniently located in the heart of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. If you are in need of an experienced litigation lawyer, be sure to contact the legal team at Leeson & Lesson today.

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