The Lacy Employment Law firm

The Lacy Employment Law firm

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Employment Lawyers: Pittsburgh Needs Them

Pittsburgh is a special place.  Even though its steel industry is now mostly memories, that culture that built it remains.  The blue-collar, hardworking philosophy has transformed the city into a thriving technology and education economy.

Those in Pittsburgh know that we continue to take this approach of hard work to our workplace.  We take pride in our work.  And being terminated from our company invokes a gut-wrenching feeling.

All terminations are not fair.  You yourself may feel that your recent termination was wrongful.  You may now be worrying about where your next job may come from. 

A Pittsburgh employment lawyer can help.

You can expect us to:

  • Understand the Pittsburgh employment market;
  • Possess intimate knowledge of how Pittsburgh employers do business;
  • Have skill in working with and against Pittsburgh employers;
  • Investigate your case;
  • File your case in court;
  • Negotiate a settlement; and
  • Try your case to a jury verdict, if necessary.

The Lacy Employment Law Firm has its roots in Pittsburgh.  Let us show you how our experience will make all the difference in your case.

How The Pittsburgh Legal Market is Different

For those that grew up in Pennsylvania, you know that the two sides of the state can feel completely different.  If you have suffered wrongful termination in Pittsburgh, you need an attorney that understands both the Pittsburgh employment and legal market.  The Pittsburgh legal market is unique because Pittsburgh has a special history when it comes to employment.

Pittsburgh is still known as the “steel city” and bridge city.   At its height, Pittsburgh was one of the leading steel producers in the country, lending itself to a blue-collar culture that still exists today.  Pittsburgh also led the charge in manufacturing other materials such as aluminum and glass.  

But that’s not Pittsburgh’s current reality.  During the 70s and 80s, Pittsburgh’s blue-collar workforce declined.  Today, Pittsburgh finds itself in a new educational, medical, and technological renaissance.  

Pittsburgh is home to 68 colleges and universities, which include the reputed Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.  In addition, global technology companies like Uber, Facebook, Google, Apple, IBM, and Microsoft have also found their home in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh is now a thriving white-collar market.  If you’re are facing termination, there’s a good chance that you will find yourself up against lawyers who worked at the largest law firm and whose companies can afford to pay them the most money.  You need someone who has been there and done that. 

Street displaying Pittsburgh businesses.
Photograph by Christopher Olpp Photography  

Attorney Andrew Lacy, The Lacy Employment Firm’s founder, started his career practicing law at the international law firm Reed Smith LLP.  Reed Smith is amongst the oldest law firms in Pennsylvania and amongst the most prestigious.  

Reed Smith represents as clients large employers in the Pittsburgh market.  And, during his time at Reed Smith, Attorney Lacy gained an immense understanding of how these companies operate.

If you live in Pittsburgh or in the surrounding areas throughout Western Pennsylvania, including but not limited to Beaver County, Washington County, or even Erie, your employment claim will almost certainly end up in this court.  

And by this court, I mean one of the federal courts in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

There are three courts within the Western District of Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh, Erie, and Johnstown.  Your case will be assigned to one of these courts based on where you live.  The Lacy Employment Law Firm has an attorney barred and admitted to practice in each court.

The federal courthouse in Pittsburgh is called the Joseph F. Weis Jr. United States Courthouse.


You can find the courthouse on 700 Grant Street.  If you are coming from Fifth Avenue, you will turn left as soon as you hit Grant Street.  Then, you keep walking until you see the Courthouse on your right.

Federal courthouse where employment lawsuits are heard

If you are not coming from Fifth avenue, you can find the courthouse right across the street from the Greyhound station.  

Greyhound station near federal employment courthouse.

Clerkship Experience in Federal Court

Andrew Lacy served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Cathy Bissoon, a district judge for the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Although the title judicial law clerk may sound administrative, it is not.  Federal judges almost always hire lawyers from the best law schools in the country or those that finish top of their class. And for good reason.

Law clerks are responsible for giving judges recommendations for how they decide cases.  You heard that right.  In most cases, the law clerk actually takes the first stab at deciding how a particular issue in a case should be resolved.

And that’s what’s important for your case.  Attorney Lacy had the opportunity to peek behind the curtains and learn how judges think.  And learning how a judge thinks is certainly important in an employment lawsuit in Pittsburgh.  

What is Considered Wrongful Termination?

Wrongful termination occurs when your employer fires you for an illegal reason.  Federal, Pennsylvania, and employment laws applying to Pittsburgh, allow employers to fire your or any non-illegal reason.


This means that your employer can fire you because they do not like your personality.  Or they cannot pay your salary anymore.  These are non-illegal reasons.  

This is not to say, however, that you might not have some legal recourse in these situations.  But the general rule is that your employer can fire you whenever.  

There are exceptions to the general rule.  Your employer cannot fire you on the basis of:

Your company also cannot retaliate against you because you engaged in protected activity. Workplace-related retaliation occurs when your employer takes an adverse employment action against you,

Retaliation can come in many forms after an en employee engaged in protected activity.

Examples of protected activity include: 

  • Complaining to a supervisor or human resources about alleged discrimination against oneself or others; 
  • Requesting a reasonable accommodation;
  • Resisting sexual advances;
  • threatening to file a charge of discrimination; 
  • Refusing to obey an order that you reasonably believe to be discriminatory;

After you establish that you engaged in protected activity, you must show retaliation.  Common examples of retaliation include:

  • Demotion;
  • Termination;
  • Reassignment;
  • Pay cuts;
  • Exclusion from teams;

In addition to discriminatory terminations, your employer may have also violated other laws.  Some of these laws include:

  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress;
  • Invasion of privacy
  • Fraud and misrepresentation;
  • Sexual harassment;
  • Negligent hiring, supervision, or training; and
  • Defamation.

As you can see, there are many exceptions to the general rule that your company can fire you for any reason.  If you believe that your employer wrongfully terminated your employment in Pittsburgh, you want to consult a Pittsburgh employment attorney.  

Other Types of Employment Law Violations and Legal Advice

As Pittsburgh employment lawyers, not we not only handle wrongful terminations but we also handle other types of employment violations.  Employers often violate employees’ rights by:

Employers often violate the FLSA by failing to pay overtime, benefits, or minimum wage.  FMLA violations occur when companies fail to give eligible employees their right to unpaid leave.  

Apart from litigating unpaid wage and hour issues or FMLA violations, we can give you legal advice on other legal issues during your employment.

Disputes over employment agreements and severance are common in the workplace. Employment attorneys can help you negotiate employment contracts.

If you need employment help, our employment attorneys are here for you.

Suing for Employment Violations in Pittsburgh, PA and Throughout Western Pennsylvania

You can certainly sue for wrongful termination.  Although employment is at will, employers cannot violate employment laws.  There are certain procedural hurdles.  

But you have the right to take your case to court if you believe that your employer fired you for an illegal reason.  

The process generally entails:

  • Filing a charge with the EEOC;
  • Waiting for the EEOC to investigate the charge; and
  • Filing a Complaint in federal court.

Taking those three steps initiates a lawsuit for wrongful termination.  

Pittsburgh Employment Lawyers End up in Federal Court

Although the case starts in Pittsburgh, it usually ends up in federal court. Most of your claims are federal claims and federal court is the place to bring them.

Pennsylvania wrongful termination lawyers start building your case in federal court at the administrative level.  To do that, we must first bring the case before the right federal agency.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) is a federal agency that handles and investigates employment discrimination charges.  It investigates and protects employees and job applicants mostly from discrimination and sometimes concerning other employment violations

.Filing and employment lawsuit with the EEOC

If you are a member of a protected class or category, you have the ability to file a complaint with the EEOC.  You may also have the ability to file if you engaged in protected conduct.  Filing this complaint will start the legal process.

Filing a complaint alleging wrongful termination with the EEOC is known as a charge.  In your charge, you will tell the EEOC how your employer wrongfully terminated you.  Although you can file a charge by yourself, we recommend that you have an attorney help you.  

When in doubt, it’s always best to contact an attorney. 

State Court Protections for Pittsburghers 

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Committee (“PHRC”) enforces your rights at the state level in Pittsburgh.  Under Pennsylvania state law, you have similar protections that you would have under federal law. 

How to file an employment complaint with the PHRA 

The general exception is that state law gives you the right to seek more damages and have your case heard by a jury of your peers.

Although your case started in Pittsburgh, you still will likely end up in the Western District of Pennsylvania. We usually forgo filing the case in state court.  In Pittsburgh, the state court is the Allegheny Court of Common Pleas.

To preserve your state claims, we will dual file your complaint.  This is a technical legal term.  It means essentially that we will file both your federal and state charges at the same time. 

You do have the option of pursuing your case under the PHRC in Allegheny County.  But there’s a few reasons that we generally file in the Western District.  First, federal court is faster and more efficient.  

Second, we have tremendous experience in federal court — where employment law cases are typically brought.  Lastly, the big one, you have no right to a jury trial under statutory employment laws in Pennsylvania.

You have this right in federal court. And the right to a jury trial is incredibly important. 

If you do not have a jury, a judge will decide your case.  And judges less favorable for plaintiffs (you).

What’s Next: Starting Your Case

Your employer in Pittsburgh has just terminated you.  Now what?  You should immediately contact an employment lawyer.  You only have so long to file a claim with the EEOC.  A wrongful termination lawyer, also known as an employment attorney, can help you out.  

Most lawyers, including us, operate on a contingency fee.  So, if cost is a concern, we will charge you no fee unless we win.

After the EEOC investigation, you will likely have the option to sue in federal court.  Hiring a lawyer even before the EEOC investigation has benefits.  A lawyer can tell you which claims you have.  As noted, there are numerous exceptions to the general rule that employment is at will. 

If the case does not settle during the EEOC process and you pursue your case in federal court, you can expect your case to settle sometime before trial.  The great majority of employment cases settle before trial.  

During your wrongful termination case, your attorney may:

  • Craft a complaint;
  • Conduct discovery;
  • Obtain a settlement;
  • Present argument for motions; and/or
  • Try your case.

You should know that, sometimes an early settlement is good.  This means more money sooner.  And sometimes employers offer more money to avoid the expense of litigation.

Other times a case may require your attorney to do more on the case.  This puts pressure on the employer to settle because they understand that a good attorney may beat them at trial.  

To get the best outcome for your case, hire an attorney early.  And make sure that attorney is ready to take your case to the end, if necessary. 

Conclusion 

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is a unique place with some of the best people.  It has often been touted as the most liveable city.

You cannot live in this city, however, if you do not have a job.   Give us a call.  And contact us for a free consultation.  We take wrongful termination cases on contingency. You do not pay a fee unless you win. 

And we can give you legal advice on any employment issue that you might have.  Here’s where you can find our office.

 

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