The HR Specialist: Pennsylvania Employment Law

A court has ruled that so-called “last-chance agreements”—which put off discharge in favor of treatment for an active drug or alcohol problem—are valid as reasonable accommodations. If last-chance agreements were banned, employees with substance abuse problems would lose an important avenue toward keeping their jobs …

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A recent spate of bizarre “noose” incidents at workplaces in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have activists calling for tough responses. A Verizon worker in Butler County discovered a doll with a noose around its neck and a note saying she didn’t deserve a promotion. Days later, a worker at a construction site in O’Hara Township found a noose in his work area …

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Bucks County contracting firm Worth & Co. says the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) has charged it with wage violations in an attempt to shut the company down because it is a nonunion shop. Worth won Pennsylvania’s “Best Places to Work Award” five years running, thanks to nominations from its employees …

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Advances in genetic research have renewed attention on the workplace implications of genetic testing. Genetic research has many potential benefits. But there is growing concern that employers with access to genetic information may use it to discriminate …

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The federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) requires employers to reinstate employees who take military-related leave. It also prohibits job discrimination against military or ex-military personnel. But a lesser-known USERRA provision deals with how employers must handle soldiers who return from active duty with injuries or other disabilities. USERRA is similar to the ADA …

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Jason Hall, of Malvern, who worked for two months in 2006 at the North Wales Best Buy store, has filed a suit over unpaid time spent by employees undergoing security searches and working through breaks …

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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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