The HR Specialist: Pennsylvania Employment Law

If an employee cares enough about a promotion, assignment or training opportunity to contact HR with a complaint, save the note, email or other communication. Here’s why.

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Have you ever urged an employee facing discipline to retire instead of being fired? That’s OK—as long as you provide an alternative, such as allowing the em­­ployee to defend himself by offering his side of the story.

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A federal court has decertified a class-action FLSA case involving several thousand workers at a hospital in Langhorne. The class representative was unable to show that an employer’s policies were uniformly enforced and therefore couldn’t show that the named litigants were “typical” of the entire group.

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Here’s an easy way to avoid needless failure-to-hire lawsuits: Sim­­ply have someone who is not involved in the initial decision to offer interviews remove risky identifying information from résumés.

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A former attorney for the Vanguard Group in Malvern is suing the investment firm, claiming he was fired for refusing to go along with an illegal tax scheme.

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Ohio-based MPW Industrial Services has agreed to settle a disability discrimination suit the EEOC filed on behalf of a job applicant.

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Some employers think disabled employees are automatically eligible for FMLA leave in addition to being entitled to reasonable accommodations. That’s not always true.

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Generally, Pennsylvania employees who aren’t union members or don’t have a written employment agreement are at-will employees who can be fired for any reason or no reason at all. There’s one major exception: Employers can’t fire at-will employees because of their protected characteristics. But there is a second exception gaining prominence in court cases.

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Workers alleging disability discrimination generally have to show that they have a condition that substantially limits a major life function. But they don’t necessarily have to drag a doctor into court. They can prove a condition such as alcoholism by showing that they underwent inpatient treatment and suffered withdrawal symptoms while there.

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Life can be unfair. When an em­­ployee complains about unfairness at work, make sure you document the complaint and make some notes on exactly what she said. If you can show she never mentioned sex, race, age or some other protected characteristic as the underlying reason for the “unfair” treatment she complained about, she hasn’t engaged in “protected activity” and can’t bring a retaliation claim against her employer.

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