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The HR Specialist: Pennsylvania Employment Law

Employees fired for willful misconduct aren’t eligible for unemployment compensation. If you terminate someone for breaking a workplace rule, be prepared to prove that the employee knew about the rule and understood it.

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Dauphin County’s Susquehanna Town­­ship is considering an ordinance barring employment and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. If enacted, the suburban Harrisburg township would form a volunteer board to investigate any claims that arise.

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Employees generally aren’t eligible for unemployment compensation if they leave their jobs voluntarily. On the other hand, employees are eligible if they leave for “compelling and necessitous” reasons. One of those reasons may be a drastic reduction in available work.

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Here’s an important reminder for HR professionals handling em­­ployee discipline: If the disciplinary process is well under way—and you believe that the proposed discipline is fair, reasonable and based on facts—there’s no need to stop the process just because the employee files an internal discrimination complaint.

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Let’s face it: It makes a manager’s job harder when employees are out on FMLA leave. That’s especially true with intermittent leave. Don’t let those hard feelings turn into an FMLA interference lawsuit. Instead, insist that managers honor approved intermittent leave without hassling the employee.

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Resourceful defense attorneys have tried a few legal tactics to help em­­ployers defend against wage-and-hour class-action lawsuits. One strategy is to “tender an offer of judgment” to the named plaintiff before the case gets to the collective-action certification stage. Unfortunately, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals has removed this arrow from defense counsels’ quiver.

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A federal trial court has ruled that FMLA-ineligible employees can sue if an employer erroneously told them they were eligible for leave and they relied on that information to their detriment.

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The National Labor Relations Board has postponed until April 30 the date when employers must display a new pro-union poster. The change came at the request of a Wash­­­­­ing­­ton, D.C., federal court hearing business groups’ legal challenge re­­garding the rule.

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A bipartisan group of U.S. senators wants to update the definition for computer professionals under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Computer professionals who earn more than $27.63 per hour are currently exempt from the FLSA. But the bill’s sponsors claim the state of computer technology has rendered outdated old definitions of the IT profession.

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Treading carefully on today’s uncertain social media terrain, many employers might hesitate to punish employees for posting workplace comments online. But the National Labor Relations Board recently found in several scenarios that employers didn’t violate the National Labor Relations Act when they terminated or disciplined the employees.

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