Articles Posted in Pennsylvania

366 - 350: You can't shut me up


One of the finest employment-law bloggers, Daniel Schwartz, recently marked the eight-year anniversary of his Connecticut Employment Law Blog with a post about the three most notable changes in employment law over that span. Number one was social media.

While for us bloggers, social media presents the lowest-hanging clickbait fruit, its metamorphosis and overall effect on the workplace is undeniable. Social media presents a slew of issues, from hiring (all those state laws on social media passwords) to firing (like the time those Facebook postings bungled an employee’s FMLA claims) and so much more.

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The Family and Medical Leave Act allows eligible employees to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period for a variety of reasons, including for one’s own serious health condition. An employee with a serious health condition can take FMLA leave if the employee satisfies three additional requirements:

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[Editor’s Note: The employer in this post is a client; although, I did not represent this client in this case].

Yesterday, in Jones v. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, for the first time ever, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals recognized that a suspension with pay is not an “adverse employment action” under the substantive discrimination provision of Title VII. (The Court did not address the issue of whether a suspension with pay is an adverse employment action under the anti-retaliation provision of Title VII).

The Third Circuit’s holding is in line with several other circuits across the country.

Alright. That’s it. Nothing more to see here. Go enjoy some tunes.

Image credit: GK Tramrunner


Yep, in this precedential opinion, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals created a Family and Medical Leave Act loophole that could protect “the most frivolous leave requests.”

Folks, if your business is covered under the FMLA, and you’ve ever had to deal with a questionable medical certification for an employee’s serious health condition, read on…

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And the Czech judge scored my lede a 4.3. Well, the second she starts paying my legal bills, maybe, I’ll give a damn. Until then…

What was I talking about? Oh yes, religious discrimination.

Over the weekend, I read this PA federal court opinion about an atheist who claimed that his boss proselytized to him about religion, even forcing him to wear a badge, which bore the company’s mission statement: “This company is not only a business, it is a ministry. It is set on standards that are higher than man’s own. Our goal is to run this company in a way most pleasing to the lord [sic]….”  The atheist claims that he covered up the mission statement with duct tape and, when he refused to remove the tape, the company fired him.

The Court, which initially put the kibosh on the plaintiff’s religious bias, reconsidered and allowed the plaintiff’s claims to survive a motion to dismiss. Continue reading

Not exactly a happy workplace trinity, but it’s what fuels The Employer Handbook. That and Jolt-Cola Bombs.

The plaintiff  in this case claimed that she was sexually harassed by her male supervisor for over a year. The court’s opinion details alleged comments and groping in vivid detail.  (No recap here. I plan to keep my post PG, damn it! Ok, PG-13. You happy, now?). Whenever the plaintiff supposedly complained, her employer did nothing about the harassment.

So, finally, she decked him one.

That got the employer to take notice. Indeed, it determined that the plaintiff had been sexually harassed and it fired her harasser. Then, the company also fired the plaintiff.
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In a world, where an employee cannot prove age discrimination after getting fired for playing golf during his medical leave, comes the story of a pharmacist *** dramatic pause *** who wouldn’t give flu shots. While we wait for Hollywood to greenlight this movie — I’m thinking Gary Oldman as the pharmacist and Blossom‘s Jenna von Oy as the customer — you’ll just have to settle for a short blog post about the age discrimination lawsuit that ensued after the pharmacist was fired.

As detailed in this recent Pennsylvania federal court opinion, a drug store decided to require that its pharmacists immunize customers upon request. The plaintiff, a pharmacist, was morally opposed to administering the flu vaccine because a close friend of his had contracted Guillain-Barre Syndrome after receiving a flu vaccine. The drug store didn’t doubt the sincerity of the plaintiff’s beliefs. Nonetheless, it fired him because he refused to immunize customers, which was an essential part of his job. Continue reading

What the hell are you talking about, Eric? Why would we make an independent contractor sign a release of employment claims before starting work for our company?

So glad you asked. Although, I’m not sure I like your tone.

*** takes pills ***

Many years ago, Allstate Insurance restructured its business, where it decided to longer have employees; only independent contractors. So, it offered its employees a bunch of options. One option was a severance; another was the ability to convert to independent contractor status. Either way, the individual had to release all past and presented employment-related claims agains the company.

When the EEOC got wind of the conversion option, they cried retaliation.

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