The HR Specialist: Pennsylvania Employment Law

Employees who have disabilities and may need accommodations don’t have to use their organization’s formal process to make requests. In fact, any statement that could be interpreted as a request for an accommodation should start the interactive accommodations process that the ADA requires. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals has said that an employer is on notice when an employee makes a request “in plain English.” The request does not have to mention the ADA …

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You expect employees to follow your attendance and time-reporting rules and probably discipline those who don’t. But you need to know that FMLA leave can be an attendance minefield where disciplinary actions can cause great damage. Employees who allege that employers “willfully” interfered with their FMLA rights or retaliated against them for taking FMLA leave have up to three years to sue. One way to prevent the willful violation charge is to take the employee’s supervisor out of the disciplinary process …

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Employers that tell workers to “start looking for another job” may find themselves paying unemployment compensation when the employees do just that—by quitting right away instead of waiting for the pink slip …

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When an employee gets hurt on the job, she is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to help replace lost wages. But that doesn’t mean her employer has to keep paying full benefits forever—if the employee can return to a light-duty or modified job. And employees who don’t follow up on those kinds of alternative job offers could lose their benefits …

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 Two male employees at a Circuit City store in Delaware County have filed a suit alleging their male manager engaged in a campaign of sexual harassment. It started with the manager tickling their palms with his middle finger, then escalated to unwanted shoulder massages, comments about oral sex and groping …

 

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Patricia Biswanger, a former partner in the Philadelphia law firm Cozen O’Connor, has sued the firm, alleging she was not given the same privileges as male associates. Biswanger was fired from her position as a nonequity partner one month after she complained about discrimination …

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In Pennsylvania, it’s still legal to ask job applicants about their marital status and family plans. The Pennsylvania Commission for Women rallied at the state Capitol on Oct. 2 in favor of legislation that would change that practice …

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To help control significant health care cost increases, many employers are trying to regulate employees’ off-duty behavior when they believe that it creates health risks. Although motivated by legitimate economic concerns, are these employers overstepping the boundaries of individual privacy? …

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Same work, fewer expenses and less hassle. That’s the perceived advantage of using independent contractors. But many employers have opted for freelancers only to find a new set of problems: lack of control, unreliable workers and, in some cases, litigation. It’s a complex issue that has invited wide scrutiny. A host of federal and state agencies are cracking down on employers that misclassify workers as independent contractors …

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Philadelphia funeral home directors Louis Garzone, Gerald Garzone and James McCafferty have been indicted for robbing bones, spines and tissue from 244 bodies. They allegedly sold the parts for transplantation …

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