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 26, 2013

Teacher fired over Facebook groping photo could get her job back

facebooksanta.jpg_jpgMerry Christmas, Laraine Cook.

Back in October, I blogged here about Ms. Cook, an Idaho school teacher who lost her job after her employer learned about a photo on her Facebook page that showed her boyfriend touching her chest.

(Oh, fine, here's the pic)

What made this story unique -- yeah, I know, teacher getting in trouble on Facebook is fast approaching "death and taxes" status -- is that the female teacher's boyfriend, also taught at the same school. He was not fired; merely disciplined.

Well, according to this story from Jimmy Hancock at the Idaho State Journal, Ms. Cook should be getting her job back soon:

A grievance panel has determined that former Pocatello High School girls' basketball coach Laraine Cook should again be allowed to work as a teacher and that she should be rehired as the girls' basketball coach for the 2014-2015 season....Addressing the firing, the panel said it should be rescinded and considered a suspension without pay from the time of the termination until the time of the panel's decision.

The panel further noted that the lack of a social media policy afforded Ms. Cook little guidance as to what the school considered online behavior that could cost her her job.

So, use Ms. Cook's situation as a wake-up call to implement/revise your social media policy. Remind your employees that certain online conduct -- even on their own time -- could cost 'em their jobs.

December 23, 2013

So your public relations executive just tweeted a racist joke that went viral...

justinesacco.jpgIt doesn't end well for the PR Exec. Just so we're clear.

Click through to read the full story...

Continue reading "So your public relations executive just tweeted a racist joke that went viral..." »

December 20, 2013

Last day to vote for The Employer Handbook as a top employment-law blog

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Today is the final day to vote in ABA Journal's Blawg 100 Amici contest. The polls close at 5 pm. If you have yet to vote for my blog, and would like to do so, here's how:

    1. Click here.
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    3. Scroll down the page to the "Labor and Employment" category, and click on it.
    4. Click "Vote Now!" for The Employer Handbook.

The whole process takes 20 seconds.

I appreciate all of your support. Thank you.

December 19, 2013

PA Gov. Corbett announces support for ban on LGBT workplace discrimination

Thumbnail image for LGBT_flag_map_of_Pennsylvania.svg.pngOver the Summer, I reported here that about companion Pennsylvania bills introduced in the House and Senate that would outlaw both sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in the workplace.

Each bill had bipartisan support, but it was unclear how Governor Corbett (R) would act if a bill was placed on his desk for his signature.



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Two days left to vote in the ABA Journal's Blawg 100 Amici contest. Please consider voting for this blog by clicking here, the banner to the right, or by tweeting your support.

Thank you.




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Yesterday, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported here that Gov. Corbett said that he would support legislation banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

The Inquirer story notes that 33 Pennsylvania municipalities have nondiscrimination laws that include sexual orientation and gender identity, while 23 Fortune 500 companies based in Pennsylvania have similar nondiscrimination policies.

Neither bill has moved out of committee since being introduced in August. The Inquirer reports that Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R., Butler), chairman of the state government committee, who controls the movement of the bill in the House, is against it.

We'll just have to wait and see what comes of it.

December 18, 2013

Proposed bill banning credit checks on employees and applicants reintroduced

creditcheck.jpeg

Second verse, same as the first.

Back in March, I reported here that a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, known as the Equal Employment for All Act, would amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to prohibit the use of consumer credit checks against prospective and current employees for the purposes of making adverse employment decisions.

Yesterday, it was the Senate's turn to get in on the act; the Equal Employment for All Act, that is.

(See how I did that?)

Details on the Senate bill, what it would mean for employers, and its chances of passage after the jump...

Continue reading "Proposed bill banning credit checks on employees and applicants reintroduced" »

December 17, 2013

Telling an employee her "big fat ass needs to concentrate on losing weight" is not discrimination

Let's talk (alleged) big butts and discrimination after the jump...

(Sir Mix-a-Lot is gonna be feelin' this post).

Continue reading "Telling an employee her "big fat ass needs to concentrate on losing weight" is not discrimination" »

December 16, 2013

New bill in Congress would provide paid family and medical leave

fmla.jpegA real game changer: Paid family and medical leave.

Details after the jump...

Continue reading "New bill in Congress would provide paid family and medical leave" »

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

present.jpg

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?

youarefired.jpg

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" »