The HR Specialist: Pennsylvania Employment Law

For many years, employers felt safe denying accommodations for allegedly disabled employees when it was clear that their medical conditions were temporary and not permanent. That’s no longer the best approach.

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If you’re ready to fire an employee for missing too much work, be sure to document the absences and pinpoint when you made the termination decision. Your records may come in handy if she sues and claims her leave was FMLA-protected.

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By some estimates, more than a million people participate in internships each year in the United States, as many as half of them unpaid or for less than the minimum wage. That can be a problem for em­­ployers: Misclassifying employees as unpaid interns can result in costly litigation, civil fines or both.

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Employers are free to run FMLA leave concurrently with other paid leave. Just make sure you tell employees exactly how you are accounting for their FMLA leave.

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Sometimes, employees’ social interactions cross the line from productive to disruptive. Before you punish friendly co-workers, consider quantifying their behavior. That makes it easier to defend against charges that you singled out some chatty co-workers for harsher treatment than others based on their protected status.

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The Pennsylvania Whistleblower Law protects employees of government agencies or employers that receive state funding from retaliation for reporting wrongdoing or waste. But the protection doesn’t extend to complaints about unwritten safety rules.

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The Philadelphia Catholic Arch­­diocese has frozen a defined-benefit pension plan for its 8,500 parochial school teachers and support staff. The move comes as the archdiocese wrestles with a $150 million pension deficit.

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A Commonwealth Court has ruled that a veteran professional chicken catcher’s bad attitude was reason enough to deny him unemployment benefits. The man was fired from his job of five years with B&B Catching Services in Northumberland County for persistently squawking about what he perceived as a stingy 2012 holiday bonus.

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State Rep. Seth Grove has proposed legislation law that would prohibit local municipalities from enacting mandatory leave requirements for employers. Grove’s move comes after Philadelphia’s City Council approved a paid leave ordinance, only to have Mayor Michael Nutter veto it.

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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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