Pennsylvania News & Analysis

  • Court: On the Border responded properly to harassment complaint

    A federal court in Pennsylvania recently dismissed a server's claim that a restaurant created a hostile work environment, retaliated against her, and was negligent in retaining an employee accused of sexual harassment. The court ruled that the restaurant sufficiently investigated the server's complaint of sexual harassment, took appropriate remedial measures, and had no reason to know about the accused worker's propensity for sexual harassment.

  • Pennsylvania federal court says UberBlack drivers are independent contractors

    The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania recently held that drivers who filed minimum wage and overtime claims against UberBlack are independent contractors rather than employees. As a result, they aren't protected under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

  • Don't just train—transform: Implicit bias exercises alone can't solve workplace 'isms'

    If you've been following the news lately, you probably know that Starbucks has been in the spotlight—and not for its 2018 limited edition white chocolate mocha.

  • New DOL program offers self-reporting of wage and hour violations

    The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced in March 2018 that it is launching a program to allow employers a chance to self-audit their wage and hour practices—and report any violations they find—in exchange for limited protection from additional liabilities and claims. The program, dubbed the Payroll Audit Independent Determination (or PAID) program, will start as a six-month pilot, after which the DOL will decide whether to offer it on a permanent basis.

  • Congress pins down tip-pooling requirements

    When Congress passed another spending bill in March 2018, few people were expecting it to resolve a somewhat obscure and highly technical dispute over how employers allocate tips among their workers. Nevertheless, that's exactly what the law does, and the result is much-needed clarity on the topic. Let's take a closer look at tip pools, their history, and what the new law accomplishes.

  • Investigation limitations: Consider hiring outside help in #MeToo era

    In the era of #MeToo, HR managers are finding that their jobs involve more and more internal investigations. Very few of us entered the field of personnel management because we love questioning alleged victims and suspects. Nevertheless, that is an essential part of addressing internal complaints. So what is an HR manager to do? Well, a new poll indicates that the best option may well be to hire outside investigators.

  • Agency Action

    DOJ sues California over immigration. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in March 2018 that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) had filed a lawsuit against California based on the state's enactment of laws seen as creating "sanctuary" jurisdictions. The DOJ says three different state laws "intentionally obstruct and discriminate against the enforcement of federal immigration law." The department contends that the laws are preempted by federal law and "impermissibly target the Federal Government, and therefore violate the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution."

  • Workplace Trends

    Survey finds global engagement levels at all-time high. Global employee engagement levels hit an all-time high in 2017, according to research from Aon, a global professional services firm. The 2017 figures follow a dip in engagement levels the previous year. Aon's analysis of more than five million employees at more than 1,000 organizations around the world found that global employee engagement levels reached 65% in 2017, up from 63% in 2016. The percentage of employees who were highly engaged increased from 24% in 2016 to 27% in 2017. Aon research shows that a five-point increase in employee engagement is linked to a three-point increase in revenue growth in the subsequent year.

  • Commonwealth Court analyzes driver's disability claim under PHRA

    On February 2, 2018, Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Court issued a concise yet illuminating opinion addressing disability discrimination claims under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA). Because the majority of disability discrimination claims are decided in federal court, the case provides a rare glimpse into a Pennsylvania appellate court's analysis of these claims.

  • Pennsylvania federal court underscores difficulty of dismissing FLSA overtime claims

    On February 23, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania refused to dismiss a police chief's claim that the borough of Honesdale failed to pay him overtime as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The court's decision highlights the burden an employer faces when it relies on an exemption under the FLSA as an affirmative defense to an overtime claim.