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Employer Misconduct and Legal Issues at Work

It isn't just the unemployed who suffer during a recession. Employees in bad workplace environments may keep a job because of the lack of other options. Whether besieged by harassing bosses, unsafe work conditions, questionable wage practices or co-worker misbehavior, an employee in a down economy may be hesitant to speak up regarding illegal activity for fear of losing his or her job. Yet employees subjected to these types of work-related ills have rights in the face of this illegal behavior.

Workers' Compensation

Federal and state laws require employers to provide healthy and safe work environments. If an employer is in violation, a worker can request an inspection by compliance safety and health officers under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, or OSHA. It is illegal for employers discourage workers' complaints about unsafe conditions or to undermine efforts to seek medical attention and appropriate workers' compensation.

Discrimination and Harassment

Most employers understand discrimination and harassment are forbidden in the workplace; unfortunately, religious, ethnic, racial, age, and gender discrimination claims are on the rise. Employers cannot deny employees benefits, promotions, better working conditions or pay based on protected status, but it happens. In addition, workers who support or complain about disparate treatment are often targeted. These actions are against the law.

Wrongful Discharge

Most jobs are classified as at-will employment, meaning an employee can be fired at any time and for almost any reason. However, employers cannot terminate an employee for discriminatory purposes or for an action protected under the law. This means it is illegal for an employer to fire whistle-blowers, workers filing for workers' compensation or even for taking family medical leave for a pregnancy.

Employee Options

In each of these cases, employees are not left without remedies. For those suffering from discrimination, filing a claim for discrimination or sexual harassment can stop such behavior. For those injured on the job, filing a workers' compensation claim is essential. For wrongful discharge, a lawsuit can restore the fired employee to the position - or pay the employee for what he or she could have earned. Employers cannot fire an employee in retaliation for bringing any of these claims.

Employees should not be held hostage by the illegal actions of their employers. Seek the advice of an experienced employment law attorney to protect your rights.

View Cases

  • Sheridan v. E. I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 100 F.3d 1061 (3rd Cir. 1996) (en banc) (Plaintiff's jury verdict and the "pretext only" paradigm for proof of intentional discrimination established).
  • Hawkins v. Division of State Police, et al., C.A. No. 99-297-SLR (Religious discrimination case which successfully obtained an offer of judgment and caused the State to stop using the MMPI-1.
  • Miller v. Daimler Chrysler Corp., C. A. No. 01-827-JJF (D.Del. 2003) (Race Discrimination claim survived Motion for Summary Judgment).
  • Panaro v. J.C. Penny, Inc., C.A. 01C-02-010 JOH, 2002 WL 130692 (Del. Super. 2002)(In a personal injury case, admission into evidence of direct examination of deceased deponent/plaintiff does not.
  • Price, et al. v. L. Aaron Chaffinch, et al., C.A. No. 04-956-GMS, 2006 WL 1313178 (D.Del. 2006) (First Amendment Retaliation, Petitions Clause and Defamation Claims survived Motion for Summary Judgment).
  • Reyes v. Freebery, 141 Fed. Appx. 49 (3d Cir. 2005) (per curiam) remanding to District Court to explain its restrictions on the public's right to access to judicial records and counsel's First Amendment.
  • Underwood v. Sear Roebuck and Co., 343 F.Supp.2d 259 (D.Del. 2004) (Gender discrimination claim survived Motion for Summary Judgment).
  • Shotzberger v. State of Delaware Dept. Of Correction, 2004 WL 758354 (D.Del. Jan. 30, 2004) (Gender discrimination claim survived Motion for Summary Judgement).
  • Stull v. Thomas S. Neuberger, P.A., 2003 WL 21481016 (Del. Super. Febr. 28, 2003) (Effect of Delaware accord and satisfaction law on a contract for legal services).
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