Legal Question in Employment Law in Pennsylvania

Recently I lost my job but I feel like I was discriminated against. I and a few others were approached by the newest manager, "Dave". Dave said one person must volunteer to work the holiday to cover for a fellow employee who was on maternity leave soon than expected. I expressed several times in the conversation that I did not currently have childcare arranged for my very young child on such short notice and at that moment I was unable to work the additional holiday. Dave then questioned the other employees, all of which provided their own thoughts or reasons regarding the holiday. Dave then proceeded to tell us that the decision was to be sorted out among us. Dave left and I immediately made a few phone calls. I multiple people if, even though it was in two days, my child could be cared for while I worked the holiday. I was still unable to find anyone. I let Dave know, and I would continue searching, but to be aware that as of at that moment I was NOT able to work the holiday. The day after the holiday, I was called into Dave's office and was told I was approved for immediate termination. I was then told I should have called in to notify him of the call-off as I was obligated to work, regardless of personal circumstances and i should have made better arrangements knowing the requirements of the job. Dave explained that he gave a direct order and insubordination is rewarded in the maximum disciplinary action. Because I recently had technical troubles with the timekeeping system, that reflected poorly on my record and it was evident I was not an acceptable employee and I was terminated. I feel as though this action was out of line and the direct result of my inability to work a holiday because I didn't have childcare for my toddler. My employer and Dave are constantly updated on any legal problems or changes that occur regarding my child that may have an impact on me. They are also aware that I am a single parent with limited resources as I am bound by certain legal terms in regards to my child, and limited resources as I am newer to the area and have met few people outside the 10hr+ work days. Is this discrimination against me? Or was it really my fault I was unable to work? If it was potentially discrimination, what can I do?

Asked on 6/19/13, 10:12 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Paul Sullivan The Law Office of Paul R. Sullivan, Jr.

Under both federal and PA anti-discrimination laws, an employee must prove that they were discriminated against based on a protected characteristic. These include things such as race, national origin, religion, gender, age, and disability. For example, if you could prove that you were treated different than other single-parents of the opposite sex, you could potentially have a viable sex discrimination case. Discrimination without that protected characteristic is not a violation of the law.

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Answered on 6/19/13, 10:37 am

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