The HR Specialist: Pennsylvania Employment Law

Interviews are often critical for sorting through many apparently qualified job applicants, and it’s critical to properly handle the interview process. Be sure you treat candidates equally, asking the same interview questions of everyone.

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There’s a long list of behaviors that can create a hostile, intimidating or offensive environment in the eyes of the law. Do you know everything that’s on it?

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Employers sometimes worry about terminating an employee who hasn’t showed up for work when her approved leave expires. That shouldn’t be a problem if you previously made it clear that it’s the employee’s responsibility to keep you updated with their status and to ask for an extension if necessary.

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Some employees are sensitive to various chemicals such as perfumes and other strong smells. Accom­­­­mo­­dat­­ing the problem can be difficult, but it’s necessary if the condition rises to the level of a disability.

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A white news anchor at the Fox29 television station in Philadelphia has lost a long-simmering reverse discrimination lawsuit that began in 2007 when he was fired for using the N-word during a production meeting called to discuss a news story on the use of the racial slur in society.

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Some professions require applicants to prove a certain level of physical fitness. When employers demand passing a physical test as a qualification to be hired, they need to make sure that protected classes such as women don’t fail at rates that indicate the test has a disparate impact on otherwise qualified applicants.

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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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