The HR Specialist: Pennsylvania Employment Law

The DOl  and IRS continue to aggressively enforce laws against misclassifying employees as independent contractors. But a major shift has taken hold in the past two years, with state legislatures and regulators actively taking a greater role in cracking down on companies that classify workers as contractors without properly documenting or structuring their relationships with those individuals.

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Intermittent FMLA leave can be a pain, especially in industries where attendance is crucial. That’s particularly true in nursing and related fields. But employees who are otherwise eligible for intermittent FMLA leave can’t be denied that right merely because it’s inconvenient for employers …

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Penn Township Police Officer Ross Piraino has a bone to pick with his employer. In 2009 Piraino began caring for the police department’s German shepherd Charro at his home. Now Piraino is suing, claiming he is entitled to overtime for time spent caring for Charro at home.

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Highmark Blue Shield has terminated its CEO in the wake of criminal charges that he attacked the husband of a former employee with whom he was having an affair.

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Four female executives with the Pittsburgh-area YMCA are suing the nonprofit, claiming they are paid less than their male counterparts and in some cases, even less than their subordinates. The four all say the pay inequities are due to gender, and one contends race bias is a factor.

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Many employers have handbooks that tell employees they must immediately report any alleged harassment or discrimination. But reporting requirements alone isn’t enough. Employers must police workplaces for harassing or bigoted materials, and act immediately if they find anything.

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When an employee can’t find an attorney to take up her case, she may resort to filing a lawsuit herself. Her complaint won’t be professional and may be short on logic. That doesn’t mean you should ignore it.

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Generally, employers shouldn’t react to anything an employee says during an EEOC hearing. That’s because you don’t want to face a retaliation complaint for participating in the hearing. However, there are practical limits to what employers have to tolerate.

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An employee who takes FMLA leave is entitled to return to his job (or an equivalent one) when his leave is up if he can perform that job without any accommodation. However, if the employee is disabled under the ADA, he may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation under that law.

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You’re almost guaranteed a messy lawsuit if you ignore an employee’s complaint that a supervisor used a racial epithet. Courts have ruled that even a single use of the N-word can be enough to create a racially hostile work environment when the speaker is a supervisor.

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