The HR Specialist: Pennsylvania Employment Law

The only appropriate response to a claim of nooses in the workplace is an immediate investigation. That may require involving the police. Show you take the incident seriously even if the source may be a customer or a contractor. It’s the right approach and the one most likely to cut any potential liability after the fact.

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Most employers fail to specifically prohibit workplace gambling, and many sanction the behavior as harmless fun. Don’t bet on it.

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Even after an employee who has participated in employment lawsuits or complaints is discharged for entirely legitimate reasons, he may later sue if he isn’t rehired. Then he’ll try to argue that his prior protected activity was the reason he wasn’t rehired. To avoid such lawsuits, make sure the hiring manager knows little or nothing about those prior activities.

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Back in 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an employee who was fired after his fiancé—who worked for the same employer—filed an internal discrimination complaint could sue on his own accord alleging retaliation. The fiancé, the court concluded, was within the “zone of interest” meant to be protected from retaliation under Title VII. The Court held that by firing someone’s significant other, the employer in effect would indirectly punish the complainer. Until now, exactly who would be included in the “zone of interest” was in question.

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Here’s something to remember when you are ready to dismiss an employee for poor attendance: You can’t use any FMLA leave as a negative factor, and you can’t include any FMLA leave when tallying absences.

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Although most employers have policies prohibiting discrimination and harassment based on an em­­ployee’s sex, race and religion, many have not yet added gender identity to the list of protected categories. The lack of protection has real consequences for transgender individuals.

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The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a lower court ruling awarding the CRST trucking company $4.7 million in legal fees. A lower court had awarded the fees after it determined the EEOC failed to conduct its conciliation process in good faith.

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Three former 911 dispatchers have filed suit against Allegheny County, Pa., alleging it discriminated against them because of their race. One dispatcher also claims she was subject to sexual harassment.

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Retribution was swift and merciless for Luzerne County, Pa.’s payroll administrator after 1,400 county employees failed to receive paychecks on the final Friday morning of November last year. County Manager Robert Lawton fired the man while he was out on approved vacation.

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Public employees can’t be terminated without a pre-dismissal hearing of some sort, to give the employee an opportunity to learn why she’s being fired and a chance to speak up. The hearing doesn’t have to be formal, but simply firing the worker without explanation isn’t an option.

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