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The HR Specialist: Pennsylvania Employment Law

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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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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