The HR Specialist: Pennsylvania Employment Law

When employees ask to be excused from working on the Sabbath, forget about questioning whether their religion actually requires the accommodation. What matters is that the employee sincerely holds the belief—not the source of the employee’s belief.

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What happens if an employer discourages an employee from taking FMLA leave and instead offers more than 12 weeks off with full pay? Can the employee still sue for interference with his right to FMLA leave if he isn’t reinstated to his prior position or an equivalent? The apparent answer is "yes."

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Being arrested for a crime is not the same as being convicted. After all, citizens are innocent until proven guilty, and many arrests never result in convictions. But the presumption of innocence doesn’t mean employers can’t suspend employees who have been charged with crimes—if those alleged crimes may affect their ability to do their jobs.

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A recent federal trial court decision has given new ammo to employees who want to sue their employers for sexual harassment—especially if the alleged harassment involves any kind of touching.

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A woman who was fired for allegedly secretly recording a conversation she had with a supervisor about harassment can still sue for sexual harassment, a federal court has ruled. It did not matter that secretly recording conversations may be a crime in Pennsylvania.

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The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission has ordered Plum Entertainment, a New Hope theater production company, to pay $162,000 to Sharon Sheridan, a former personal assistant who claimed she was fired for complaining about sexual harassment.

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The borough of Ellwood City has agreed to pay $160,000 to former police chief Richard McDonald to settle charges of racial discrimination. Almost immediately after being hired in June 2007, McDonald clashed with Mayor Donald Clyde …

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Employers are responsible for the way their employees behave. Threatening behavior toward fellow employees or customers that causes emotional or physical harm can lead to a negligent-supervision lawsuit.

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Q. If we suspend an employee “pending investigation,” what information must we provide to the employee?

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The financial meltdown has spelled job creation for one office: The Pennsylvania unemployment hotline recently hired 132 additional staffers.

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