The HR Specialist: Pennsylvania Employment Law

A federal judge has ruled that Radio Shack owes overtime to its salaried employees even though the overtime calculation method the company uses is legal under federal law. Radio Shack uses the fluctuating workweek method to figure overtime when worker hours vary week to week.

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With collective-action wage-and-hour claims on the rise, employers worry that they may be burned by unpaid work they didn’t even know employees were performing. But a recent appeals court decision provides a rare piece of good news: As long as employees haven’t worked more than 40 hours in any given workweek, so-called “gap time” between hours paid and hours worked doesn’t always mean liability.

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Have an adequate but not outstanding employee? Be careful if he engages in some form of protected activity. Sud­denly deciding he’s not good enough may spark a retaliation lawsuit.

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What are the dangers when verifying applicants’ credentials, checking out their professional networks or just feeling out their personalities?

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Most employers try to run unpaid FMLA leave concurrently with other paid leave, such as sick leave. But sometimes, it may be simpler to encourage the employee to just take a few days of paid vacation or personal leave rather than dealing with the FMLA paperwork. That’s OK.

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McKees Rocks Industrial Enterprises has agreed to settle a retaliation case brought by a former employee who had complained of safety violations at the freight-handling company’s terminal near Pittsburgh. OSHA contends that the general laborer’s complaints led directly to an inspection by federal safety authorities—and that the man was immediately transferred and eventually fired as a result.

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Sometimes, it seems as if anybody can sue their current or former em­­ployer and get a day in court. It’s true, anyone is welcome to fill out the blank complaint forms that courts make available to the public. But spurious complaints like this one are usually quickly dismissed.

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You might believe that an employee couldn’t argue she didn’t know she was on FMLA leave or that she might lose her job if she didn’t return to work within 12 weeks. You would be wrong.

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Here’s a big reason to ban supervisor/subordinate relationships: When those affairs end, trouble for employers often begins. The subordinate, who may have been a willing participant, may now claim she was being sexually harassed. Or the supervisor may punish the subordinate for cutting off the relationship. Either way, there’s probably a lawsuit coming.

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The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School (PCCS) has lost in its bid to stop a union election among its teachers. The Pennsylvania Cyber School Education Association, an arm of the Pennsylvania School Edu­­ca­­tion Association and the National Edu­­ca­­tion Association, sought an election to represent the teachers working for the PCCS.

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