The HR Specialist: Pennsylvania Employment Law

The federal court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania recently ruled that UPS’ policy of requiring injured employees to be fully healed before they can return to work constitutes discrimination under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

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Normally courts are pretty lenient in allowing poor plaintiffs to file lawsuits. But the federal court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania recently decided a disabled man who had filed 11 lawsuits in that court since 1999 no longer deserved the court’s indulgence.

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An arbitrator has ruled that the EEOC willfully violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by forcing employees to take comp time instead of overtime pay when they worked more than 40 hours a week. The EEOC will be liable for back pay, plus liquidated damages that so far haven’t been determined.

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Your business has crunched the numbers, considered the alternatives and come to the conclusion that layoffs are necessary if the business is to remain afloat during these challenging economic times. But how much thought have you given to your remaining employees who are about to watch their friends and colleagues lose their jobs?

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Employers aren’t allowed to count absences covered by the FMLA when they discipline employees. That’s why it’s important to segregate any such absences from performance reviews and any discussions about attendance.

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Here’s a lesson to pass on to managers and supervisors: Employees who win FMLA lawsuits after being denied the right to take leave can end up with a large pot of gold at the end of the litigation—a pot that has to be filled by the company.

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A recent report offers some ominous news for Pennsylvania employers. Pennsylvania is one of eight states that saw an increase in class-action wage-and-hour cases filed in state court last year, according to the Seyfarth Shaw law firm’s new Workplace Class Action Litigation Report.

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Carole Smith, who worked for property management firm Normandy Properties, sued the company for pregnancy discrimination, and a jury awarded her $600,000 in compensatory damages. Then it assessed the company $1.2 million in punitive damages.

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By now, most employers have heard of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), the proposed legislation that would make it dramatically easier for unions to organize workers and obtain favorable terms in the initial collective-bargaining agreement. Is it time to panic? Of course not, but it is time to take action.

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If you are planning to visit the Philadelphia regional office for the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, make sure you have the correct address. The agency recently moved …

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