The HR Specialist: Pennsylvania Employment Law

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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Here’s some advice that can save you money you might otherwise have spent defending an FMLA lawsuit: If an employee has accrued enough absences under your attendance policy to warrant termination or is coming close, make sure you haven’t counted any missed work that should have been covered by the FMLA.

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If you have an ethics, harassment or discrimination hotline, be sure to track all complaints that come in, your response and any follow up. This information will come in handy later if someone who used the hotline sues, claiming you ignored her complaints or otherwise discriminated against her.

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Outrageous behavior by a co-owner of Ricardo’s Restaurant in Erie has cost the establishment $20,000. The EEOC reports that it has settled sexual harassment complaints filed by one of the restaurant’s former employees.

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A union election at an Allentown company that provides home health care services may have turned on the vote of one person, who arrived too late to cast a ballot.

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Pittsburgh-based Maxim Healthcare faces a suit from the EEOC after it refused to place an HIV-positive health­­­­care worker at a Veterans Admin­­is­­­­tra­­tion hospital.

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