The HR Specialist: Pennsylvania Employment Law

The Workers United union has filed criminal charges with the Philadelphia Police Department against food-service giant Aramark, alleging that the company has pocketed union dues deducted from employees’ paychecks. Aramark manages concessions at Citizens Bank Park, the Pennsylvania Convention Center and the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, plus 40 other arenas in the U.S. and Canada.

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With news from Capitol Hill that the “card-check” provision has been dropped from the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), employers need to be concerned that passage of the controversial pro-union legislation is now more likely than ever. In exchange for dropping card checks, EFCA backers gained three incredibly powerful proposals that will dramatically increase union ability to win elections.

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Employees who are terminated for disciplinary infractions often claim they were singled out because of bias against some protected characteristic. But the fact is, every employee belongs to some protected class—whether based on sex, age, race, disability or another characteristic. The only way to protect against discrimination lawsuits is to thoroughly document every disciplinary action.

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Employees who work for government agencies have a few additional rights that privately employed workers don’t enjoy. One is the right to speak out on matters of public importance. That right, however, is quite limited. Even so, some public employees think they can say anything about their supervisors and not be disciplined. That just isn’t so.

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Some employees are more sensitive to potential sexual harassment than others. What some might disregard as innocent flirtation, others might consider an unwelcome come-on. Courts often throw out harassment suits that start that way, but why tempt fate—or spend time and money defending yourself?

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When a supervisor says something insensitive, employers must fix the problem and then make sure the comment doesn’t reflect some sort of deep bias. Follow up on the comment with appropriate discipline and then check to see that any discipline recommended by the supervisor is based on independently verifiable information.

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If an employee rebuffs your offers to consider her for ADA accommodations or FMLA leave, make sure you document her desires. That way, she can’t come back later and claim you didn’t accommodate her or give her leave.

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Remember: Pennsylvania employees have just 300 days to file an EEOC complaint.

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The EEOC has sued construction giant Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc. for refusing to hire an apparently well-qualified backhoe operator after the company learned the man has diabetes.

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Paul Lesko was contrite when he appeared in Cumberland County court for sentencing following his conviction of embezzlement. While working for Westy Beer Distributor in Hampden Township, Lesko had taken more than $7,625 from owner James Yaple.

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