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The HR Specialist: Pennsylvania Employment Law

Joseph Rosenfeld, a former community affairs assistant to the mayor of Allentown, lost a workers’ compensation claim for psychological damage he said he suffered because of bad press over his job performance. Rosenfeld was the subject of some 30 newspaper articles in 1996 alleging he had used his political clout to stop the relocation of a bus terminal to financially benefit his family …

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Do you have an employee who doesn’t seem to be getting along with anyone? Has he complained about discrimination or some other supposed wrongdoing? If so, document the problems. If you don’t, you create legal risks …

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Three female employees of the Crazy Horse Steak House in New Oxford will share $40,750 for harassment allegedly committed by owner Nicholas Mavros. The women claimed Mavros commented on their breasts, asked what color underwear they were wearing, invited them to come to a motel to have sex, touched them against their wishes and even put his hands down an employee’s pants …

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A female temporary worker on a long-term assignment for NJ-based Philips Lighting Co. won a $164,850 verdict for gender discrimination against the company. The woman, who worked in the warehouse of the company’s Mountaintop, PA, plant, claimed the company offered full-time positions only to male temps. She asked about full-time employment several times and was told she was next in line. Instead, she was fired …

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How far can employees go when firing off comments on the web on their own time? What if the employee is a public servant? For Bernie Kieklak, chief of staff for state Sen. Lisa Boscola, the answer is pretty far …

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More and more employers are conducting criminal background checks on prospective and current employees, and that means employers are asking tough questions about prior arrests and convictions in the application process. To avoid potential liability, your company needs to develop practices and procedures for managing the process. You need to understand applicable state and federal laws concerning background checks …

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Immigration reform was a hot topic in Washington during the first half of 2007, but Congress ultimately failed to pass legislation to tighten enforcement of decades-old laws that regulate which foreign-born workers are eligible to work in the United States. Fairly or not, look for employers and the HR functions to bear much of the enforcement responsibilities. Your best bet: Make sure you document employees’ eligibility to work by thoroughly completing and maintaining up-to-date I-9 forms …

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Pennsylvania employees who quit their jobs when their employers move can sometimes collect unemployment compensation. The Unemployment Compensation Board of Review looks at individual situations and determines whether the move forced the employees to quit for “necessitous and compelling” reasons. Examples include a longer, more expensive commute or disruption of child care routines …

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To streamline the work force, some employers encourage early retirement and may even include an inducement in the form of enhanced benefits. But unless the employer informs the employee her job is endangered unless she signs up, the employee is probably not eligible for unemployment compensation …

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Winning Fair Labor Standards Act cases involving employees who claim they shouldn’t have been classified as exempt usually means being able to document exactly what employees do on the job and the conditions under which they work …

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