Under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, Employer is Defined as the Owner of a Company that Employs Four or More Employees
The Pennsylvania Humans Relations Act (PHRA) is a state statute that is for the protection of employees against employment discrimination. To bring a law suit against an employer for wrongful termination because of sexual harassment under the PHRA, the person must be an “employer” as defined by the act. According to the PHRA, to be considered an “employer” punishable under the act, there must be four or more employees that the person employs. Reversely, if a work environment has three or less employees the owner of the company is not liable under the PHRA for a wrongful termination suit because of Sexual Harassment.
In the case Weaver v. Harpster, 601 Pa. 488 (S. Ct. Pa. 2009), the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania confirmed that an environment of three employees does not qualify the owner of the company as an “employer”. Id. at 506. The woman in Weaver wanted to sue her employer because according to her compliant the “[e]mployer invited Employee to engage in a sexual relationship and committed various inappropriate sexual and physical contacts, such as rubbing, touching and hugging her, making inappropriate comments about her appearance, attire, and sexual proclivities, and closely following her around the office and to the bathroom.” Id. at 492. However, because the work environment was so small (never more than three people at a time), she was barred from asserting her claim under the Pennsylvania Humans Relations Act, for being discriminated based on sex. The court did insinuate that there could be other remedies for the plaintiff such as bringing tort claims against the defendant for his actions.