The HR Specialist: Pennsylvania Employment Law

Employers have great leeway when it comes to discharging employees. But many employers get into trouble by failing to conduct a thorough and fair investigation. If the employee can prove the investigation was so cursory that it was just an excuse to cover up an illegal motivation such as age discrimination, the employer may lose big.

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Lissa Hannan, a Verizon employee in the Pittsburgh area, filed a complaint alleging a male contractor sexually harassed her. The company essentially put her on hold and then hung up. Ten days after she filed her complaint, Verizon fired Hannan. The company ended up agreeing to pay her $37,000 to settle the lawsuit.

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Employers that “regard” people as disabled and then discriminate by firing them or refusing to hire them in the first place will face lawsuits—even if it turns out those applicants and employees aren’t actually disabled. That’s a key part of the ADA.

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Months or even years after the fact, it can be hard for managers to remember what happened during a job or promotion interview. That can be a problem if they have to recall in court the interview and the decisions that resulted. And that can add up to unconvincing testimony, which can cause juries to doubt their sincerity and honesty—and therefore conclude the organization was discriminating.

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Sometimes, you may want to discipline or discharge an employee because of customer complaints. Get those complaints in writing—you may be able to use the letters as evidence that proves you sincerely fired the employee based on the complaints.

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Bridgeport-based employee benefits firm Penn-Mont faces charges from the U.S. Department of Labor claiming the company failed to pay full death benefits to the families of deceased employees covered under its plans.

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A federal jury has awarded $74,000 to Melissa Brown, a former food service director at Plymouth House nursing home in Plymouth Meeting, after the contractor employing her dismissed her when she sought maternity leave. But that was just the beginning …

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The Temple University Health System will have to collectively bargain with a larger group of nurses following a recent Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) ruling.

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Government employees have the right to speak out on matters of public importance without being punished by their employers, but that right has limitations. One of those involves speaking out on issues that are directly related to the job the employee holds.

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The grapevine sometimes is very effective. When an employee decides to sue an employer, chances are he has discussed it with someone at work. That someone may also know that the employee has sued others in the past.

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