The HR Specialist: Pennsylvania Employment Law

You may not have to pay employees for every task they perform while getting ready to start their shifts. But if those employees can prove you told them they would be paid for that time, you may be liable.

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When you think of a sexually hostile work environment, the scenario usually involves crude sex talk, bawdy photos and other prurient activities. But those aren’t the only markers of a hostile environment. In fact, a pervasive anti-female attitude that has nothing to do with sex can lead to a lawsuit, too …

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Some talk doesn’t belong at work. Period. If you don’t ban racist comments, you’ll probably face an EEOC lawsuit …

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The ADA Amendments Act of 2008, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2009, is designed to restore protections for the broad range of individuals with disabilities, as originally envisioned by Congress. The amendments were also meant to reverse several U.S. Supreme Court decisions that limited the ability of individuals to qualify as disabled …

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It was a case about as welcome as the lawsuit against Santa Claus in “Miracle on 34th Street.” Judge Joseph Smyth of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, only reluctantly agreed to hear a lawsuit brought by a priest against the Episcopal Church bishop who defrocked him.

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An ill-worded e-mail, unlike a phone conversation, can come back to haunt you. Deleting e-mail doesn’t mean it’s gone forever, or that a recipient hasn’t saved, printed or forwarded it. Plus, there are plenty of computer experts out there who can recreate or retrieve deleted e-mail messages. The best policy is to assume that whatever is in an e-mail can be used against you in a court of law …

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Before you hand out cell phones, laptops and BlackBerrys to everyone on your staff, understand that such tech tools may expose your organization to legal liability. Two legal minefields are particularly worrisome …

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It is an unwritten rule in polite society that anyone who feels compelled to guess a person’s age should always guess down. That’s why it’s hard to sympathize with an investor with Unitek USA, who reportedly asked a 55-year-old applicant seeking an HR director’s position, “How old are you, 78?” …

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You might worry that people who don’t speak English well won’t be bound by contracts such as arbitration agreements. If applicants or employees can’t read an agreement, it would seem logical that they couldn’t agree to the terms. You have little to fear …

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Employees have to pay 7.65% of their wages in Social Security taxes, while employers pay a matching 7.65%. Independent contractors have to pay the entire 15.3% themselves. But what happens if an independent contractor is misclassified and should really be an employee? Can the individual sue her putative “employer” for the 7.65% the company should have paid? …

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