This post was written by Candace Chewning, Outreach and Communications Director for the Office of Benefits and Wage Compliance.
Job security is something workers have always strived for. Even with a new gig economy creating the ability to make money in a pinch or quickly pick up new jobs on different platforms, job security is as important now as it was 100 years ago. Sometimes, a new manager and a simple mistake can mean losing a job that you have had for the past 15 years. In a moment’s notice, you can be at risk of losing your livelihood. True job security comes from knowing that decisions about your employment are made based on fairness. The new Wrongful Termination from Parking Employment law outlines a process for a discharge which raises the standards on what is considered a fair discharge.
The only protection from being an “at will” employee, who can be fired for any legal reason, is to be a “just cause” employee, who can only be fired for a reason that meets certain criteria. Previously, the only exceptions of “at will” employees in Philadelphia were employees covered by union contracts with just cause protection. Beginning September 3, 2019, parking employees are now the only unrepresented group of just cause employees.
Philadelphia’s new Wrongful Discharge from Parking Employment law sets a precedent for all parking employees and raises job security standards for all workers.There are an estimated 1,000 parking employees in the city who will benefit from this law. Parking workers from across the city attended a public hearing at City Hall and held a public action which cited wrongful terminations as an issue.
“Now the companies cannot mess with our lives by firing us. They can’t retaliate and treat us differently by changing hours, locations and schedules as punishment. Having this security means the world to me and my co-workers.”
Ciara DiBerardino, Philadelphia Parking Worker
Now, because of this ordinance more workers in Philadelphia have the protection they deserve.
Unintentional violations are expected and we have a plan to address it
Currently, service-based industries tend to see a high turnover in service work. Since the industry standard is usually below the standard of the law, we expect to see unintentional violations as employers learn the new requirements for this law.
The substance of the law, utilizing and applying progressive discipline consistently and following just cause, may not be the biggest challenge. The biggest challenge an employer may face is likely in the day-to-day record keeping required by the law. Employers must be able to prove they are following the law by supplying proof of progressive discipline and that the criteria of just cause outlined in the law were met.
The Office of Benefits and Wage Compliance within the Mayor’s Office of Labor offers employer compliance assistance and will provide trainings upon requests to support good actors in implementing the new requirements.
The Mayor’s Office of Labor website is a great resource to review the Wrongful Discharge from Parking Employment law and its requirements, as well as other resources.
Wrongful or not wrongful? File a complaint.
The Office of Benefits and Wage Compliance will investigate all complaints and make the determination on if there has been a violation of the law. Any questions on whether a discharge is wrongful should come to the Office of Benefits and Wage Compliance. There is no harm in filing a complaint if you are not sure. An investigator will walk you through the entire process, and you may withdraw your complaint at any time. In addition, our office will handle all interactions with the employer.
What can I do?
If you are a parking worker or parking employer, know the law and ask questions when you aren’t sure.