The HR Specialist: Pennsylvania Employment Law

Do your employees have to put on special uniforms or equipment before beginning work? If the law or your company policy requires it, chances are the time spent getting in and out of the clothing or equipment should be paid time …

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Employers must post a copy of the approved federal FMLA poster “conspicuously” in the workplace. Neglecting to do so opens the door for lawsuits if you discipline employees for absences that would have been covered by FMLA. Those employees may claim they didn’t ask for FMLA leave because they weren’t familiar with the law …

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The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals has expanded the class in a class-action suit brought by former workers and retirees against their employer. The case centers on Conexant Systems Inc., which offered its own stock among the investment options employees could choose from when structuring their 401(k) plans. The stock fell from $7.42 per share to $1.70 in seven months during 2004 …

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Employers can’t cater to every customer’s whim, but they can respond to complaints about employee behavior without worrying that a judge will second-guess their decision …

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If the people reviewing employment applications don’t know the race of the candidates, they can’t discriminate for or against any particular applicant. That’s why you should consider using a “blind” application process …

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Employees with disabilities may be absent more than other employees. That doesn’t mean you can’t reasonably ask about those absences. In fact, courts have ruled that it’s not necessarily harassment even when supervisors land hard on disabled employees who are frequently no-shows …

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When it comes to discrimination, your best defense is treating everyone absolutely equally. That’s tough to do without a central HR tracking system. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Make sure you note any problems (and praise) in each employee’s official file. Then, do regular audits—pulling out data on age, sex, national origin and race—to tabulate types of problems and any discipline levied …

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One of the most important moves Pennsylvania employers can make to cut unwarranted unemployment compensation liability is to establish clear work rules. Those rules should include a requirement that all employees act honestly. Explain to all employees that violating the honesty rule is grounds for termination …

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Employees who work for educational institutions on a temporary basis from semester to semester—substitute teachers, for example—may be eligible for unemployment compensation if they are offered a substantially different position (with lower pay) the next term. But if the new assignment is essentially the same as the previous assignment, they can’t refuse the offer and receive unemployment compensation …

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Jeffrey Hawthorne, a Mercer County Children and Youth Services (CYS) caseworker, sued the agency for gender discrimination, alleging his supervisors wanted to create an “all-female work force,” and “treated men differently from women” …

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