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The HR Specialist: Pennsylvania Employment Law

Consult your attorney before settling any internal discrimination complaint. If the employee has already filed an EEOC or other complaint, giving her what she originally wanted may not be good enough unless there’s a formal, binding settlement agreement.

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Do you know for sure that your supervisors equally punish em­­­­ployees who break the same workplace rules? If not, it’s time to conduct an internal audit. Check disciplinary records against your employees’ protected characteristics.

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Sometimes, supervisors say stupid things. But unless a statement or action is outrageously offensive and clearly related to an employee’s race, ethnicity, sex or other protected category, it isn’t grounds for a harassment and discrimination lawsuit.

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If you ever have to face off against the EEOC in court, watch out! The commission has great discretion to expand a case that may have begun with just one employee. In doing so, it may demand a long list of information about your employees, past and present. Before turning over employee information to the EEOC, ask the court to order confidentiality.

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It isn’t unusual for disappointed applicants to file frivolous failure-to-hire lawsuits. Your best shot at a quick dismissal is proof that the applicant wasn’t qualified. An application or résumé can do that.

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If a former employee sues after being fired for poor performance, his attorney will almost certainly ask to look at past performance appraisals. Any that indicate the employee had previously been doing a good or excellent job may be used against you as proof the employee was fired for illegal reasons.

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Making comments about someone’s illness is both rude and unprofessional. It may also be the basis for a lawsuit. That’s reason enough to warn supervisors and managers against discussing medical problems related to FMLA leave

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With the end of the year approaching, you’re probably assessing 2012 performance and planning for 2013. As you take stock of the past and set future directions, take the time to review employment agreements and policies designed to protect your intellectual property assets.

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Here’s a good reason to make sure pregnant employees don’t experience bias: The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act protects against pregnancy discrimination and holds personally liable anyone who aids or abets discriminatory practices.

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When the 2011 baseball season ended, Philadelphia Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro fired Ali Modami, the team’s batting practice pitcher. Now Modami has filed a $100,000 defamation suit against Amaro and the team.

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