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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 12615
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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My daughter was fired from her security job because a fellow

Customer Question

My daughter was fired from her security job because a fellow worker had a picture of her from years ago and circulated it around the work area. She is an army veteran and took her job as an armed guard very seriously. Do you think she should go forth with a wrongful termination suit? An do any attorney's do this and take payment from settlement instead of up front?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hello and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. My name is ***** ***** I will do everything I can to answer your question.

What exactly did the picture depict your daughter doing? Something unprofessional?

I very much look forward to helping you on this matter.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
she sent a topless picture to him about 3 years before applying for the job and he just happened to work at the same facility she was hired in at. All joking aside, he must have really liked the picture to have kept it for so long. Then after she worked there for a year, he decided to share it. She filed a sexually harassment and both she was put on paid leave and he was leave w/o pay. About 6 week later they were both terminated. She was proud to serve our country and proud to have had the position to protect a nuclear power plant and now she is in a state of embarrassment and depression.
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you.

The general rule in PA is that employment is "at will" absent an express agreement to the contrary. At will employment can be terminated for any reason not amounting to discrimination on the basis of a legally protected trait (race, religion, gender, etc.) or retaliation for engaging in certain forms of legally protected conduct (filing a wage claim, taking FMLA leave, etc.). It doesn't matter whether the basis for termination is fair, reasonable or even true. So, in general, it's not against the law to terminate an employee based on conduct they engaged in years ago that does not have anything to do with their job.

In order to have a legal claim, your daughter would need to argue that she was either terminated in retaliation for reporting sexual harassment (a legally protected activity) or terminated because of her gender (a legally protected trait). If only she was terminated and the male coworker was retained, that would be very different. But since both her and her male colleague were let go it's very hard to make the argument that discrimination or retaliation were at play. The employer will claim it was simply because your daughter displayed poor judgment in allowing her picture to be ta***** *****ke that, and that her poor judgment was the reason she was let go.

This is an unusual case, though, and I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that if your daughter were male and the picture that circulated was a picture of a naked male body that she would not have been fired and this would not have become such a big deal. In that case, her termination would be discriminatory on the basis of gender. But the question is how do you prove that? I can't think of a good way, but that most likely would be your daughter's only route to legal success. She can't lose by filing a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment & Housing, which is the first step she would need to take to pursue a lawsuit. Filing a DFEH complaint is free. See here:

I hope that you find this information helpful. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.

If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes moving forward.

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hello again,

I just wanted to followup with you to make sure that you did not have any further questions or concerns. For some unknown reason, the experts are not always getting replies or ratings (which is how we get credit for our work) that the customer thinks have gone through. In your case I have not yet received either. If you are having technical difficulties with reading, replying or rating, please let me know so that I can inform the site administrator.

In any event, it was a pleasure assisting you and I would be glad to attempt to assist you further on this issue, or a new legal issue, if needed.

Very best wishes.