The HR Specialist: Pennsylvania Employment Law

Large employers usually have several departments, and it’s common for employees to do work in more than one. But some payroll systems may not catch it when cross-departmental work exceeds 40 hours in a week, separately recording hours worked in each department.

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A Philadelphia jury has awarded $38.5 million in punitive damages to the families of two Kraft Food employees who were shot to death by a co-worker in 2010.

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The Penn State Hershey Medical Center has agreed to settle a lawsuit alleging that a cancer surgeon was fired in retaliation for defending the rights of his secretary, who was fighting breast cancer.

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Q. Can I rely on verbal promises made by my em­­ployer during my interview, or during my employment as forming part of my contract of employment?

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Generally, employees who take FMLA leave are only entitled to their job back if they are able to return to work right after their 12 weeks of time off expires. Imme­­di­­ately terminating the employee without a good reason may backfire, because it could be seen as retaliation for taking leave.

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Employees who are fired for willful misconduct aren’t eligible for unemployment compensation. Not following the employer’s call-off rules is willful misconduct and may bar benefits.

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Federal law protects applicants who belong to the military reserves from discrimination based on their service, and considering their military obligations when making hiring decisions is illegal. If anyone involved in hiring ex­­presses reluctance to hire a candidate because of his or her service, expect legal trouble. Make absolutely sure you had valid reasons for picking other candidates.

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It’s almost always inconvenient to have an employee suddenly leave in the middle of a shift. But if the under­­lying reason is an FMLA-covered con­­dition and he gave you enough information to make you realize the time off might be covered by the FMLA, think twice before punishing the early departure.

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A federal appeals court has ruled that telecommuting is not always a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. The case involved a Ford employee suffering from a disability, but the court found that on-site attendance was an essential function of the plaintiff’s job.

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Don’t assume case is over after state court case ends. A recent case shows that even after a decade of litigation, the former employee may add a second federal lawsuit.

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