The HR Specialist: Pennsylvania Employment Law

Kia Reid, a former sales representative at a Sheraton Suites hotel in Philadelphia, was sentenced to eight months in a community corrections center plus two years of probation for sending a threatening note to her supervisor, who is an American Muslim of Arabic descent …

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Nobody’s accusing the state of Pennsylvania—where “Bonusgate” charges have been swirling—of underpaying its workers. Trying to hold onto his party’s slim majority in the Statehouse, Democratic Majority Floor Leader Bill DeWeese instituted new ethics policies in the wake of a grand jury probe …

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When the U.S. Supreme Court decided the Ledbetter case in the spring of 2007, employers breathed a collective sigh of relief. It appeared that employees whose current paychecks were smaller because of sex discrimination years ago were barred from suing and instead would have had to file their lawsuits within months of the original discriminatory pay decision. Now it turns out that Ledbetter may not be as simple a decision as it first appeared …

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Employees who have disabilities and may need accommodations don’t have to use their organization’s formal process to make requests. In fact, any statement that could be interpreted as a request for an accommodation should start the interactive accommodations process that the ADA requires. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals has said that an employer is on notice when an employee makes a request “in plain English.” The request does not have to mention the ADA …

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You expect employees to follow your attendance and time-reporting rules and probably discipline those who don’t. But you need to know that FMLA leave can be an attendance minefield where disciplinary actions can cause great damage. Employees who allege that employers “willfully” interfered with their FMLA rights or retaliated against them for taking FMLA leave have up to three years to sue. One way to prevent the willful violation charge is to take the employee’s supervisor out of the disciplinary process …

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Employers that tell workers to “start looking for another job” may find themselves paying unemployment compensation when the employees do just that—by quitting right away instead of waiting for the pink slip …

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When an employee gets hurt on the job, she is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to help replace lost wages. But that doesn’t mean her employer has to keep paying full benefits forever—if the employee can return to a light-duty or modified job. And employees who don’t follow up on those kinds of alternative job offers could lose their benefits …

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 Two male employees at a Circuit City store in Delaware County have filed a suit alleging their male manager engaged in a campaign of sexual harassment. It started with the manager tickling their palms with his middle finger, then escalated to unwanted shoulder massages, comments about oral sex and groping …

 

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Patricia Biswanger, a former partner in the Philadelphia law firm Cozen O’Connor, has sued the firm, alleging she was not given the same privileges as male associates. Biswanger was fired from her position as a nonequity partner one month after she complained about discrimination …

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In Pennsylvania, it’s still legal to ask job applicants about their marital status and family plans. The Pennsylvania Commission for Women rallied at the state Capitol on Oct. 2 in favor of legislation that would change that practice …

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