The HR Specialist: Pennsylvania Employment Law

If you have an ethics, harassment or discrimination hotline, be sure to track all complaints that come in, your response and any follow up. This information will come in handy later if someone who used the hotline sues, claiming you ignored her complaints or otherwise discriminated against her.

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Outrageous behavior by a co-owner of Ricardo’s Restaurant in Erie has cost the establishment $20,000. The EEOC reports that it has settled sexual harassment complaints filed by one of the restaurant’s former employees.

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A union election at an Allentown company that provides home health care services may have turned on the vote of one person, who arrived too late to cast a ballot.

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Pittsburgh-based Maxim Healthcare faces a suit from the EEOC after it refused to place an HIV-positive health­­­­care worker at a Veterans Admin­­is­­­­tra­­tion hospital.

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A Harrisburg area gentlemen’s club faces a federal lawsuit alleging it failed to pay exotic dancers the minimum wage and proper overtime. Four dancers filed suit in federal court charging the club violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by misclassifying them as independent contractors.

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Offering the option to resign or retire instead of facing an investigation into alleged wrongdoing doesn’t always block a later lawsuit if the employee accepts—but it usually does. Be prepared to show the resignation or retirement was truly voluntary.

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Employees who have a pending request for FMLA leave and are just waiting for their doctor to provide the required medical certification must still follow call-in rules. Have a clear policy in place so employees understand what is expected before, during and after their FMLA leave request.

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Wage-and-hour cases can drag on—and sometimes turn into class-action lawsuits. That’s why settling early may make sense. But settlements can spawn even more lawsuits. To minimize that possibility, consider using a confidentiality clause.

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Here’s a case that shows how important it is to keep good records of the interview and hiring process. When a rejected applicant sued, an employer ended up having to call in former applicants to whom it had offered jobs but who had turned down the offers. The employer won the case on the strength of those other candidates’ testimony.

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Some employees may be embarrassed when they experience sex­­ual harassment. They may feel too uncomfortable to come right out and repeat offensive comments they heard. What should HR do?

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