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3 Common Employment Law Defense Strategies


If you’re an employer being sued by a former or current worker, you need proper legal representation. Losing your case could have a range of consequences for your organization that include financial consequences and reputational harm.

This doesn’t need to happen. An experienced employment law defense attorney can work with you to maximize your chances of arriving at a favorable outcome.

The specific defenses a Pittsburgh employment law attorney may use when representing you will vary depending on the nature of your case. However, the following are among the more common strategies that lawyers apply in these circumstances:

An Employer Had a Valid Reason to Terminate an Employee

This is one of the most obvious defenses to begin building a strategy when a former employee claims he/she/they were terminated for discriminatory reasons. In charges or pleadings in employment cases, the former employee may not even raise the employer’s stated reason for an adverse employment action.  The fact that an employee makes a claim does not mean he/she/they is accurately representing the circumstances. It’s entirely possible the reason the employee was terminated was valid and legal. If an ex-employee is taking legal action and arguing that fired him/her/them unfairly or improperly, the first step is to preserve all evidence surrounding the basis for your actions, preferably that were created contemporaneously with the employment decision.

You need to have good facts and preserve them, legal counsel will assemble the evidence and use it to your benefit.

A Rule Supported a Business Purpose

Sometimes organizations have rules or policies that may have a disparate impact on those who belong to a certain group but are considered essential to the operation of the business, or a bona fide occupational qualification. If those policies advance a reasonable business cause, they can exist despite their disparate impact.  For example, a designer of women’s undergarments may require that its catalog models are all female.

To secure a BFOQ defense, consult your employment attorney in advance to make sure that the qualification is actually a BFOQ and that you have structured it properly as a valid job requirement.

Harassment Was Occurring But an Employer Was Unaware of It

Employers are typically liable if employees are being harassed by their supervisors. This is often true even if an employer was not aware that any harassment was occurring.

However, if an employer was unaware that a worker who is not a supervisor was harassing a coworker unless the employer should have been aware of the conduct had they been properly monitoring the working environment, they may not be legally responsible for damages.  This defense requires that the employer have a lawful policy against harassment, distribute the policy to all employees, and train employees on the policy annually least.

Again, the full list of defenses a lawyer will use when defending against discrimination, harassment, or other such activities is long. It’s best to discuss your case with an attorney right away if an employee is suing you. At N. Stotler Law, handling employment defense cases in and around Pittsburgh, we will help you better understand your legal options in these circumstances. Call us at 724-841-5565 or contact us online for more information.

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