The HR Specialist: Pennsylvania Employment Law

Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania’s senior senator, switched parties from Republican to Democrat in April, and now he’s changed his mind about the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). His support for pending legislation to repeal DOMA, which limits federal government recognition of same-sex marriage, could be crucial—and could affect HR.

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Employees who sue their employers over alleged national-origin discrimination have to do more than show that their employer was frustrated with the employee’s inability to communicate.

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The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued five citations to UAE Coalcorp Associates following its investigation of a fatal 2008 mine roof collapse at Harmony Mine in Northumberland County.

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A federal court has refused to accept the notion that a standard FMLA eligibility form sent to an employee creates a contract.

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Employers that must decide whom to cut during a reduction in force sometimes mistakenly fear they can’t terminate someone who is out on FMLA leave—even if the employee had an atrocious attendance record before she went on leave. That’s simply not fair to other employees.

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As one of the largest investment management companies in the nation, Malvern-based Vanguard Group is used to making money, not paying it out. That could change now that the firm has been sued for racial discrimination after allegedly refusing to hire a black applicant for a high-level finance job.

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Pennsylvania’s unemployment compensation system—dealing with unprecedented demand during the recession—gets an assist this fall thanks to a $6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

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According to an online survey conducted by CareerBuilder.com, employers are not firing workers quite as often for faking illness to get a day off: 15% of employers fired workers this year because they faked an illness, down from 18% in 2008. It appears fewer employers have the time to check up on absent workers. So why are workers absent when they aren’t sick?

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The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals has issued an opinion that may result in many more sex discrimination lawsuits at work. The case allowed an avowedly homosexual man to file a sex discrimination and harassment lawsuit based on his effeminate mannerisms—even as the court reiterated that sexual orientation isn’t covered by Title VII.

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Here’s advice that bears repeating to everyone involved in hiring and firing: Never opine that you’d prefer someone of the opposite sex to do a job. Word will get around … and you’re sure to get sued.

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