Welcome Pennsylvania and New Jersey employers.

Settle in and read on for easy-to-navigate, clear and concise summaries of the employment-law landscape in PA and NJ. Plus, we highlight the latest legal trends and changes in the law. You can even improve the way you and your employees conduct business with our featured guest commentary and insights from other management-side employment lawyers and human resources professionals.

This isn't your average blog; this is The Employer Handbook. Read it cover to cover.

December 13, 2013

Your President/CEO may have to pay your company's wage and hour debts herself

MacGyver.jpgWell, that certainly sucks. Even worse than the time I found out that Santa Claus MacGyver wasn't a real person.

(My psychiatrist says that there's a light at the end of the tunnel. I'm not so sure...)

But seriously, I thought that the purpose of a limited liability company was to insulate members from the debts of the company.

After the jump, see how that rule doesn't necessarily apply when an LLC fails to pay minimum wage or overtime...

Continue reading "Your President/CEO may have to pay your company's wage and hour debts herself" »

December 12, 2013

GUEST POST: Hidden Substance Use at Work

guestblogger.jpgToday, we have a guest blogger at The Employer Handbook. It's Melissa Kluska. Melissa currently writes for St. Jude Retreats, a non 12 step alternative to traditional alcohol and drug rehab. As well as writing for St. Jude's, Melissa enjoys blogging about health and relationships.

(Want to guest blog on an employment-law topic at The Employer Handbook? Email me).

Continue reading "GUEST POST: Hidden Substance Use at Work" »

December 11, 2013

FACT OR FICTION: Employers may discriminate based on family status

Fact or Fiction?That's right folks. It's time for another edition of "Fact or Fiction" a/k/a "Quick Answers to Quick Questions" a/k/a QATQQ f/k/a "I don't feel like writing a long blog post."

Yesterday, I read this opinion about a white man who claimed that he lost out on a middle school boys basketball coaching job because the school didn't like the fact that he was married to an Asian ethnic Chinese woman and they have seven mixed race children.

The plaintiff claimed that the school violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The school filed a motion to dismiss, claiming that the man could not state a claim under Title VII. The school prevailed because, well, I'll let the court tell you:

The plaintiff alleges that he was discriminated against, not because of his own race, but because of the race or his wife and children. He is basing his discrimination claims on his family status. Viewing the allegations in the light most-favorable to the plaintiff, it is possible that he was treated differently from white males who did not have mixed race families. However, discrimination based on family status alone is not actionable under Title VII. Simply stated, Mr. Blasi is not a member of a protected class for Title VII purposes. Because he is not a member of a protected class, he cannot establish a prima facie case of direct discrimination under Title VII. His claims under this legal theory have no merit.

Therefore, the answer to today's QATQQ is fact.

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It's also a fact that this blog -- the one you read religiously for the compliance content, humor and hidden satanic messages is hella-awesome! So, please vote for it today in the ABA Journal's Blawg 100 Amici contest. You can cast your vote for The Employer Handbook here, by clicking the banner to the right, or tweeting your support.

Thank you.

December 10, 2013

Camouflage toilet paper and 9 of the other most unusual coworker holiday gifts


Leave it to Career Builder to run a survey seeking the most unusual co-worker holiday gifts. Camouflage toilet paper made the list.

(Well, at least it wasn't used, amirite?)

The complete list follows after the jump...

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Continue reading "Camouflage toilet paper and 9 of the other most unusual coworker holiday gifts" »

December 9, 2013

Must an employer ask if a disability is causing poor job performance?


You've got an employee with performance issues. Big time! Initially, rather than fire her, you make fun of her behind her back put her on a series of performance improvement plans. But, that doesn't result in -- oh, what's the word I'm looking for? -- improvement.

So, you fire her.

Ah, but here's the little wrinkle for today's post. The poor performer experienced frequent migraine headaches and struggled with pain and other symptoms caused by endometriosis. As a result of these conditions, she frequently requested medical leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, which you afforded her.

Given the poor performer's medical issues, before firing her, did you have an obligation to engage in an interactive dialogue with her, consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act to determine whether her health issues caused her performance issues?

The answer follows after the jump...

Continue reading "Must an employer ask if a disability is causing poor job performance?" »

December 6, 2013

GUEST POST: What HR needs to know about how immigration law impacts firing decisions

guestblogger.jpgToday we have a guest blogger at The Employer Handbook. It's Emily Neumann. Emily has practiced immigration law in Texas since 2005, representing both employers and immigrants. Neumann writes a blog on immigration law (immigrationgirl.com) and shares updates on Twitter (@immigrationgirl) and her Facebook page to help her clients stay informed of the latest news. She is a partner in Reddy & Neumann, P.C. in Houston and Dallas.

(Want to guest blog on an employment-law topic at The Employer Handbook? Email me).

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Continue reading "GUEST POST: What HR needs to know about how immigration law impacts firing decisions" »

December 5, 2013

HR's 2013 Performance Review (via SHRM's #nextchat)

weknownext.pngYesterday, We Know Next, the muscle-bound social media arm of the Society for Human Resource Management, hosted a NextChat session on Twitter.

Oh, you don't know NextChat?

NextChat is a one-hour session on Twitter, which runs every Wednesday from 3-4 PM EST on a topic du jour -- that's the soup of the day -- affecting HR. 

Each NextChat features 8 questions posed to an HR influencer. During theNextChat, other Twitter users may tweet along using the hashtag #nextchat, or simply follow along by searching for the #nextchat hashtag.

This week, the HR influencer was moi. (Go figure). The topic: HR's 2013 Performance Review.

If you missed yesterday's NextChat, check out all great tweets after the jump...

Continue reading "HR's 2013 Performance Review (via SHRM's #nextchat)" »

December 4, 2013

Employers may force employees not to file class actions

nlrb.jpgAs my buddy Rubo used to say: "It's like school on Saturday; no class."

Read all about it -- yesterday's BIG federal appellate court decision; not my buddy -- after the jump...

Continue reading "Employers may force employees not to file class actions" »

December 3, 2013

Pregnancy isn't a workplace disability, but how about morning sickness?

morningsickness.jpegAn employee-plaintiff who claims that she was discriminated against under the Americans with Disabilities Act due to her pregnancy alone, will lose her ADA claim 10 times out of 10. This is because pregnancy is not a disability under the ADA.

But what if that same employee plaintiff with an ADA claim alleges that the discrimination relates not to her pregnancy, but rather to her morning sickness?


The answer after the jump...

Continue reading "Pregnancy isn't a workplace disability, but how about morning sickness?" »

December 2, 2013

Employee legally fired for complaining on Facebook about the boss' "creapy hands"

5cake.jpgGenerally speaking, those who wait five years to complain about perceived sexual harassment in the workplace, don't win lawsuits if they are eventually fired.

But what happens when the complaint takes the form of a status update on Facebook? Does that offer the employee extra protection?

Find out after the jump...

Continue reading "Employee legally fired for complaining on Facebook about the boss' "creapy hands"" »

November 26, 2013

ABA Journal names The Employer Handbook a top law blog (again)! #TeamHandbook

2013_Blawg100Honoree_150x150.jpgNotice anything new at The Employer Handbook? 

Maybe the image on the right.

Your other right. Yeah, there it is.

The Employer Handbook is officially the Grover Cleveland of the interwebz, proudly nominated twice -- in non-consecutive years -- by the American Bar Association in its Blawg 100 Amici as one of the top employment-law blogs in the galaxy. 

Hey, yo. Gratuitous posts aside, my workplace insights really flatulate -- err, resonate.

So, don't call it comeback; I've been here for years.

Indeed, Your Blogness has been on quite a run recently. Have you seen the updated Speaking Engagements section of the blog recently? No? Well, go ahead, click and scroll down to check out my June 2014 gigs. I'll wait. Oh, that's no typo. That's speaking gigs <plural> at SHRM's 2014 Annual Conference and Expo.

Quick, someone fetch my scepter!

The rest of you, here's the drill:

For the next month, the ABA has requested that you winnow down the group of deserving employment-law blog nominees to a grand champion. You can do that by voting for The Employer Handbook here, clicking the banner below, or tweeting your support.

Vote in the Blawg100

Seriously though, thank you to everyone who reads and supports this blog. We wouldn't be here without you.

Now, Vote Handbook!

November 25, 2013

Woman fired after getting sniffed by men 24 times may have a retaliation claim

nose.jpgPlay some Skynyrd, man!

(Just pretend the song is about reckless indulgences in the workplace, rather than drugs and needles and such, k?)

Well, this is a new one for me.

A woman claimed that she was employed as a leasing manager for four days. And during those four days, two male co-workers sniffed her 12 times each.

*** Carries the one, curses, grabs calculator ***

The woman further claimed that, shortly after she complained to her supervisor about the sniffing, she was fired without explanation.

Sounds like we may have viable retaliation claim: (1) complaint about sexual harassment; (2) termination; (3) complaint caused termination.

Amazingly, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas granted summary judgment to the employer, concluding that no reasonable juror in the woman's shoes would have viewed herself as a victim of sexual harassment. To paraphrase the lower court's logic: "It's not like these guys grabbed her or anything. And besides, it was harassment, not sexual harassment."

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in this opinion was all like, "WTH!" Wait, the court actually said this:

We hold that there is a genuine dispute of material fact whether the maintenance men's behavior violated Title VII....The sniffing and hovering over a woman, by two men, in a small, confined space could be viewed by a reasonable jury as harassment based on Royal's sex. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine the maintenance men sniffing and hovering over Royal if she were a man.

Remember, sexual harassment can take many forms in the workplace. When you train your employees, and especially your supervisors who are tasked with receiving complaints of sexual harassment, educate them about the many ways in which an employee may be sexually harassed.

Including sniffing.

November 22, 2013

To all the employers too gun-shy to fire an employee on the day she returns from FMLA leave

fmla.jpegDid I scare you yesterday with my post about the part-time employee denied leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act who may have an FMLA retaliation claim after receiving full-time hours?

Well, your blogtender is here with a double shot of courage. (See what I did there?)

*** blogtender pours himself a double shot of something else ***

In Travers v. Cellco Partnership (opinion here), the defendant-employer put on its big boy/girl underpants -- your blogtender doesn't discriminate -- and fired an employee on the day she returned from FMLA leave.

Because, guess what? The employee was warned and disciplined about performance issues before she took any FMLA leave and the timing of her discharge was simply because she was on leave when the employer learned of her final misconduct.

And the employer won because, news flash, it ain't FMLA retaliation if the FMLA doesn't motivate the firing.

Now, before you start caution to the wind, keep in mind when the employer prevailed in this case: summary judgment. How much did the employer have to spend in legal fees to get there? Whatever the outlay, that money would be recouped from the plaintiff.

So, fire slow and hire fast.

*** just checking ***

November 21, 2013

FACT OR FICTION: Giving a part-time employee full-time hours may be FMLA retaliation?

Fact or Fiction?That's right folks. It's time for another edition of "Fact or Fiction" a/k/a "Quick Answers to Quick Questions" a/k/a QATQQ f/k/a "I don't feel like writing a long blog post."

Come on, gang! Did you see yesterday's blog masterpiece? Those .gif's don't animate themselves. My little elves -- I'm classifying them as FLSA exempt by the way -- crank the wheel every time you land on the page. So, cut me some slack; I'm taking it easy today.

But, check this out. We have a part-time employee who claims that her three requests for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act to care for a sick spouse are denied. Then, less than a month later, her boss gives her full-hours.

In this economy?!? What nerve!

But, possible FMLA retaliation claim?

Yes, according to a Maryland federal court in this opinion. Assigning full-time work to a part-time employee may constitute an adverse employment action, which, along with the protected activity (the FMLA request), and a connection between request and hours, completes the FMLA retaliation trinity.

So, learn from this and be careful about adjusting the terms and conditions of employment -- in any way that could arguably be construed as adverse -- shortly after an employee requests/takes FMLA leave.

November 20, 2013

Welcome to the Employment Law Blog Carnival: Hollywood Villains Edition

Welcome everyone to the Employment Law Blog Carnival. What you'll find after the jump is the best, recent posts from around the employment-law blogosphere all organized around a common theme.

So, yeah, we need a theme.

[Lousy blog rules]

Two years ago, we spun some tunes with the "Employment Law Blog Carnival: Jukebox Edition." That featured such hits like "If You Love HIPAA, Let Me See You Twerk It" and a Sex Pistols B-side hidden track about social media policies.

Last year, I went with the "Employment Law Blog Carnival: Hollywood Casting Call Edition." To the casual internet user, my writing in that post may have seemed, oh, what's the word, "deranged"? Here is an actual quote:

Stuart Rudner blogs "When trust has been destroyed: Just cause for dismissal." The Canadian adaptation, "Haste Makes Waste," is set for release next year and stars Dustin Diamond as Wayne Gretzky. No, not that Wayne Gretzky. Just some guy who plays a total screw-up and happens to have the same name as the "Great One," which, in turn, helps him to keep his job.

But, to you, my fans, you recognize it as something more than the product of some bad salmon I ingested just before a marathon two-finger typing session. It's gold!

So, mainly since my brain is fried from churning out this drivel -- free drivel -- every weekday, let's stick with the Hollywood theme. How about the Employment Law Blog Carnival: Hollywood Villains Edition? Hannibal Lechter would approve, I'm sure. You may even see him after the jump.

So grab some liver, fava beans and nice chianti and click through to read the carnival offerings...

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Continue reading "Welcome to the Employment Law Blog Carnival: Hollywood Villains Edition" »