The HR Specialist: Pennsylvania Employment Law

With more and more citizen-soldiers being called to long tours of duty, being a member of the reserves or the National Guard no longer seems like a part-time position. Inconvenient as it may be, resist the temptation to mention someone’s military service in performance reviews, at bonus time or when considering service members for promotions or raises …

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It’s happened to most HR specialists—a supervisor calls and says an employee claims he’s disabled so he can’t work the night shift or lift anything heavier than a ream of paper. Plus, the employee wants extra breaks beyond those everyone else gets because his disability tires him easily. How do you respond? …

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Just about every harassment allegation deserves some sort of investigation. After all, that’s the only way to tell what is really happening down in the trenches. But that doesn’t mean each and every accusation should result in discipline or some other tangible action …

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Former employees who collect unemployment sometimes work “off the books” while collecting payments. That’s illegal, of course. Those found to have violated the law by not reporting self-employment or casual labor may be banned from collecting unemployment in the future. They also will owe repayment. But unless the proper authorities know about the activity, nothing will happen …

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A court has ruled that so-called “last-chance agreements”—which put off discharge in favor of treatment for an active drug or alcohol problem—are valid as reasonable accommodations. If last-chance agreements were banned, employees with substance abuse problems would lose an important avenue toward keeping their jobs …

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A recent spate of bizarre “noose” incidents at workplaces in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have activists calling for tough responses. A Verizon worker in Butler County discovered a doll with a noose around its neck and a note saying she didn’t deserve a promotion. Days later, a worker at a construction site in O’Hara Township found a noose in his work area …

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Bucks County contracting firm Worth & Co. says the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) has charged it with wage violations in an attempt to shut the company down because it is a nonunion shop. Worth won Pennsylvania’s “Best Places to Work Award” five years running, thanks to nominations from its employees …

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Advances in genetic research have renewed attention on the workplace implications of genetic testing. Genetic research has many potential benefits. But there is growing concern that employers with access to genetic information may use it to discriminate …

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The federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) requires employers to reinstate employees who take military-related leave. It also prohibits job discrimination against military or ex-military personnel. But a lesser-known USERRA provision deals with how employers must handle soldiers who return from active duty with injuries or other disabilities. USERRA is similar to the ADA …

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Jason Hall, of Malvern, who worked for two months in 2006 at the North Wales Best Buy store, has filed a suit over unpaid time spent by employees undergoing security searches and working through breaks …

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