The HR Specialist: Pennsylvania Employment Law

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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Tameisha Wilson, of Penn Hills, has filed an EEOC lawsuit against Grand Rapids, MI-based Gainey Transportation, claiming she was subjected to sexual comments, threatening language and unwanted touching after she joined the company as a trainee in October 2006 …

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A Pittsburgh system/supply analyst sued Del Monte Foods for race and age discrimination after being passed over for several promotions despite excellent reviews …

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The state of Pennsylvania is looking for a way to force employers to pay their share of health care costs without running afoul of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) …

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