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.

October 15, 2014

Read this before you ask an entry-level worker to sign a non-competition agreement

My Facebook and Twitter feeds were blowing up yesterday with links to articles at NYTimes.com, Huffington Post, and Jezebel about how the sandwich chain, Jimmy John's, supposedly makes its sandwich makers and delivery drivers sign these non-competition agreements. These agreements purport to preclude employees from working for certain nearby competitors for two years after their employment with Jimmy John's ends.

Now, I know what you're thinking...

That Meyer has the coolest Facebook and Twitter feeds evah! How can I get with him? (Well, here's how you can get with me next month, but I digress).

I'm not going to comment specifically on Jimmy John's and its purported practice other than to say that I work in Philadelphia and it would be sacrilege to let a "sub sandwich" pass between these lips. But, after the jump, I do have a few general pointers from employers about restrictive covenants...

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Continue reading "Read this before you ask an entry-level worker to sign a non-competition agreement" »

October 14, 2014

Everything HR must know about the Supreme Court's '14-15 docket

Coming up during this term, the Supreme Court will decide seven cases relating to HR compliance. To put this into proper perspective, if you were to award a point for every forthcoming Supreme Court decision, that would be seven more points than the entire New York Giants team scored against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night.  

[Yep, still basking in the glow].

Anyway, for more on these important cases affecting your workplace, Philip Miles has you covered here at Lawffice Space.

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And speaking of workplace goodies, have I mentioned the free event were are hosting next month entitled, "Social Media @Work, The #BalancingAct between Employer and Employee"? Well, other than the five other times I've mentioned it. Ok, indulge me. Mark your calendars for November 12, 2014 from 8:45-10:00 AM. And get over to the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. (We'll even feed you breakfast at 8:00). We're talking me and three key decisionmakers from the EEOC and NLRB gabbing away about stuff you can use to proactively protect your workplace. 

But you'll need a ticket, and they are limited.

More details here.

October 13, 2014

Getting fired for bringing a gun to work probably isn't discrimination

But, hey, what do you have to lose by filing the lawsuit anyway, right? I mean, it can't end up worse than the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football.

(Oh yeah, I went there).

More after the jump...

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Continue reading "Getting fired for bringing a gun to work probably isn't discrimination" »

October 10, 2014

Read this before you revoke a job offer in Pennsylvania based on criminal history

Across the country, many states and localities have enacted ban-the-box legislation. In a nutshell, ban the box means that employers cannot inquire about an applicant's criminal history until after the first job interview.

For example, Philadelphia has ban the box. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania does not.

Still, Pennsylvania does have the Criminal History Record Information Act. But, indeed, a Pennsylvania federal court ruled on Wednesday that the Act and ban the box are two separate things:

CHRIA does not preclude an employer from revoking a conditional offer of employment based on a good faith belief than an applicant intentionally withheld material information on his employment application in violation of the employer's policies.

Just be sure that, if you are asking about criminal history on a job application, you don't operate in a ban-the-box town or city. And, even if you don't, remember that under the Act precludes employers from basing employment decisions on misdemeanors and summary convictions that do not render an applicant unsuitable for employment. And basing an employment decision on a mere arrest...fuggedaboudit. Like my arrest for male prostitution doesn't make me unfit to be a lawyer.

(If only my blogging platform had a double strikethrough).

October 9, 2014

Federal appellate court foils the age discrimination claims of "Superman"

General Zod is not impressed

More on this case after the jump...

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Continue reading "Federal appellate court foils the age discrimination claims of "Superman"" »

October 8, 2014

EEOC, NLRB & Me: Mark your calendars for November 12, you guys

You're Invited.jpg

What if...

I'm just saying, what if you could attend an event -- a free event, with breakfast -- and you get to hear me speak for an hour and fifteen about social media in the workplace and other hot workplace issues, and then grill me during a Q&A?

That would suck, right? Because, apart from the breakfast, who wants to hear me speak for an hour and fifteen minutes?

So, how about something better -- couldn't be worse, amirite?

How about a panel discussion featuring, oh, I dunno...

Well, hey now! Direct access to three of the most influential workplace decisionmakers in our government. And I'm the moderator. (Oh, alright! You get the free breakfast too).

Is your heart racing? Your pulse quickening? That's not the morning coffee you're feeling. 

Geared to human resources professionals, business owners, and in-house counsel, this incredible collaboration will dish at an event entitled "Social Media @Work - The #BalancingAct Between Employer and Employee." We'll cover a variety of hot topics such as: 

  • Establishing social media policies that withstand legal scrutiny
  • Exploring the impact of social media on hiring decisions
  • Determining how far is too far when it comes to sharing workplace information online

Beyond social media, each speaker will address other emerging workplace issues at their respective agencies and take your questions. And, because I love you guys, this program has been approved for 1.25 HR/General recertification credit hours toward PHR, SPHR and GPHR recertification through the HR Certification Institute.

You want in on this? Yeah, you do...

Social Media @Work
The #BalancingAct Between Employer and Employee

Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Breakfast: 8 a.m.
Program: 8:45 a.m. - 10 a.m.
National Constitution Center
525 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Limited tickets available here.
.

littletwitter.pngBoth before and during the event, follow along and tweet using #BalancingActlittletwitter.png

October 7, 2014

Remember that a duty to accommodate may exist after childbirth

Seems one employer may not have received the memo. Now, the EEOC is taking aim. More on this and some tips for employers to avoid pregnancy-accommodation traps, after the jump...

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Continue reading "Remember that a duty to accommodate may exist after childbirth" »

October 6, 2014

The importance of having clear employment policies...and following them

Remember that Americans with Disabilities Act case involving Walgreens and the $1.39 bag of chips. In that one, the store appeared to really step in it by firing a diabetic who ate a bag of chips from the store without paying for it. The employee claimed that she needed the chips for her diabetes. The store defended its actions by arguing that the employee violated its no-grazing policy. $180,000 later, that case settled.

I don't know how much the chicken poppers sell for at Wal-Mart. And the case I read over the weekend involving the company's no-grazing policy didn't settle either...

Click for more...

Continue reading "The importance of having clear employment policies...and following them" »

October 3, 2014

The Supreme Court completes my religious discrimination superfecta

Have you noticed a theme here at the blog this week?

I mean, other than the crappy posts.

Well, that and the crotch grabbing.

It's been all about religious discrimination. Good ahead, scroll down the page, there they are.

And yesterday, the Supreme Court announced that it is going to decide EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., a case involving an employee who wore a headscarf (or "hijab") to work for religious reasons, but was told to remove because it conflicted with Abercrombie's clothing policy. The lower court granted summary judgment to the EEOC. The Tenth Circuit reversed and granted summary judgment for Abercrombie, concluding that the employee never informed Abercrombie that she needed a religious accommodation to wear the hijab at work.

Now, the Supreme Court will have to decide whether an employer can be liable under Title VII for refusing to hire an applicant or discharging an employee based on a "religious observance and practice" only if the employer has actual knowledge that a religious accommodation was required and the employer's actual knowledge resulted from direct, explicit notice from the applicant or employee.

Prediction: Abercrombie wins. I can't see how a majority of the Court concludes that anything less than actual notice of a particular individual's sincerely-held beliefs would create a duty to accommodate them.

October 2, 2014

Can crosses on holiday party invitations create a hostile work environment?

Remember yesterday, when I was talking about religious accommodations, I said, "Treat all religions equally."

That same rule applies to  casting out the evil devil of religious discrimination generally. Church!

After the jump, from my bloggerdome pulpit, I'm preaching my religion: employment law. All ye harassers, there is still time to repent! I will bring workplace salvation.

*** dodges lightning strike ***

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Continue reading "Can crosses on holiday party invitations create a hostile work environment?" »

October 1, 2014

A Monday Night Football lesson on workplace religious accommodations

After scoring a touchdown on Monday night, Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah dropped to his knees and prayed.

Kinda like this.

As Kevin Draper at Deadspin.com reports (here), a tweet from Abdullah's brother further confirmed that the player's post-TD celebration was a Muslim prayer.

Except the referees responded with a 15-yard penalty to the Chiefs for excessive celebration, for which the NFL later later accepted blame.

Oops.

What can employers learn from the NFL's mistake? A few lessons on accommodating prayer in the workplace after the jump...

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Continue reading "A Monday Night Football lesson on workplace religious accommodations" »

September 30, 2014

The religious bias case of the Jehovah's Witness officer who refused to use a gun

Ok, technically, he was a "parking services officer." But, he was working in a police department. And when you work in a police department as an officer, the odds are that you'll need some weapons training.

Well, cue the jump where we learn whether a police department has to accommodate the religious beliefs of a Jehovah's Witness who refuses weapons training....

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Continue reading "The religious bias case of the Jehovah's Witness officer who refused to use a gun" »

September 29, 2014

Court: It's ok to try to hit a co-worker with your car after grabbing her crotch (twice)

The opinion contains the words "fingered," "genital area," and "sexual assault," plus an allegation that the assailant tried to hit the plaintiff with her car in the mall parking lot. But, the court concluded that there was no sexual harassment, because none of these events "affected the conditions of her employment."

** napalms Washington-bound resume; shreds ashes **


September 26, 2014

The #EEOC makes history by filing its first ever transgender-discrimination lawsuits

Bending iPhone6's? Derek Jeter's last home game in Yankee pinstripes? Attorney General Eric Holder to resign?

Bah!

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was the one stealing the headlines yesterday -- err, doing something that I decided to be most blogworthy.

Details on two historic lawsuits after the jump...

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Continue reading "The #EEOC makes history by filing its first ever transgender-discrimination lawsuits" »

September 25, 2014

The Workplace Risks (and Rewards) of Social Media

Wouldn't it be great if two employment lawyers, one representing employees, another representing management, would discuss the employment-law implications of social media in the workplace on a Twitter chat? Then some other lawyers could chime in. And we'd have a moderator.

What's the word I'm looking for? Dorky? A little. But no dorkier than what the rest of you dorks discuss on Twitter.

Well, anyway, we did all this yesterday. If you missed it, keep one eye open tonight; I'm coming for you in your sleep here it is!