The HR Specialist: Pennsylvania Employment Law

There’s a first time for everything—including firing someone for violating a rule. But that may spell trouble if other employees weren’t punished for breaking the same rule.

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Don’t worry that you can’t discipline disabled workers—if you can show that you punish all em­­ployees equally for breaking the same rule. An employee’s disability is irrelevant as long as you don’t cut slack for other employees while punishing the disabled worker.

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Do you have an employee who sometimes becomes depressed and needs FMLA leave on an intermittent basis to deal with flare-ups? If so, he’s not necessarily disabled under the ADA.

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Act fast on reasonable accommodations requests. Lengthy delays may be viewed as an outright denial of accommodations.

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The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) is getting a taste of its own medicine. A candidate for the position of PHRC executive director has filed a lawsuit claiming that the commission—which investigates discrimination charges—is guilty of being racially biased.

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Want to look good to a judge? Then take the extra time to let employees tell their side of the story before you fire them.

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Here’s a warning about general grooming standards and disciplining employees over their hairstyle choices: Make sure you apply the same standards to all employees and don’t end up forbidding members of a particular protected class to wear hairstyles that are OK for other workers.

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Employers are often reluctant to raise concerns over the impact of an employee’s religious practices. Those issues generally aren’t considered to be job-related, and the fear is that addressing them might cause a discrimination lawsuit.

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Here are two easy steps to prevent your employee handbook from turning into a binding contract.

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Some employees can’t seem to get it together and do their jobs properly. While an underlying medical or psychological problem may be the cause, don’t assume that’s the case if the employee hasn’t asked for help or a reasonable accommodation.

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