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The HR Specialist: Pennsylvania Employment Law

Want to look good to a judge? Then take the extra time to let employees tell their side of the story before you fire them.

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Here’s a warning about general grooming standards and disciplining employees over their hairstyle choices: Make sure you apply the same standards to all employees and don’t end up forbidding members of a particular protected class to wear hairstyles that are OK for other workers.

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Employers are often reluctant to raise concerns over the impact of an employee’s religious practices. Those issues generally aren’t considered to be job-related, and the fear is that addressing them might cause a discrimination lawsuit.

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Here are two easy steps to prevent your employee handbook from turning into a binding contract.

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Some employees can’t seem to get it together and do their jobs properly. While an underlying medical or psychological problem may be the cause, don’t assume that’s the case if the employee hasn’t asked for help or a reasonable accommodation.

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Here’s a tip for handling em­­ployees undergoing sex changes: Make sure the employee isn’t har­­assed and that it’s business as usual in the workplace. Treat the employee as you always have and don’t fear legitimate discipline or an evaluation based on performance.

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Following your own rules for discipline, promotion and evaluation is the best defense against a discrimination lawsuit. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make exceptions to your rules when the situation calls for it. Just make sure that you document why you made the exception at the time you did.

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One way to ensure “blind” hiring is to create an online application process that doesn’t ask for protected-class information. Then perform initial screening without actually interviewing candidates.

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The Coatesville Area School District superintendent and athletic director have both resigned after bigoted text messages between the two came to light when a technician transferred their data to new employer-provided phones.

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Employers can control some hazardous work conditions, but not all of them. What a particular customer or client may do when he comes in contact with an employee likely falls into the uncontrollable category.

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