Philadelphia Employment Law News

July 2011 Archives

The infamous Natalie Munroe blog will not be the end of the teaching career for Munroe at Central Bucks High School East. Munroe, who maintained the blog "Where Are We Going & Why Are We in This Handbasket," was recently told that she could resume teaching 11th grade English after she was suspended when the school district discovered her blog.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the district suspended Munroe in February over remarks she made on her blog. The blog was anonymous but contained her pictures, and in her posts Munroe made disparaging remarks about her students calling them "frightfully dim," "whiny," "lazy whiners," and "utterly loathsome." Munroe also commented that she wish she could write on student report cards "dresses like a streetwalker" and "shy isn't cute in 11th grade."

Is there hidden discrimination against blacks in the workforce? We’ve previously written about the high levels of Philadelphia unemployment for black workers especially in relation to the national average. Roughly 30 percent of working age African-Americans in Philadelphia are not working, while only 20 percent of workers of any race nationwide are unemployed.

Now the EEOC is taking steps to address one potential cause of the disparity in hiring numbers by holding a conference to urge employers to consider hiring workers with criminal histories.

How is this Legal? Unpaid Legal Internships with Feds

Apparently the only people who are hiring are the people who are not paying. The Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that the U.S. Attorneys Office in New Jersey is advertising for unpaid legal internships to work for free for one year.

The U.S. Attorneys office is basically the in-house counsel for the federal government and they prosecute criminal and civil cases on behalf of the feds. Working at the U.S. Attorneys office is extremely prestigious for young lawyers and given this prestige, young law grads are willing to work for free to get the experience.

But can any employer, including the federal government, do this -- can they not pay employees for working?

Tipped Employees' Minimum Wage in Pennsylvania

The issue of tipped employees' minimum wage was recently brought up when a server at the Legal Seafoods inside the Philadelphia International Airport raised a stink about having to contribute a part of his wages to pay the wages for other minimum wage workers at the restaurant.

According to the Philadelphia Daily News, the server, David Anglin, was required to pay $8 per shift into a tip pool to pay the wages for other minimum wage workers whose duties consisted solely of rolling silverware into napkins.

This may seem like a weird arrangement, and the author of the Daily News article suggests that it may also be an illegal arrangement. The author was probably right.

Philly School Police Not Happy w/ Workplace Dress Codes

Philadelphia school police not only have to deal with unruly students, possible layoffs, and decreased benefits, but now they also have to contend with workplace dress codes.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the chief of police operations at Philly schools instituted new grooming standards that include banning goatees, soul patches, and earrings on men. Also on permanent probation: large earrings, false eyelashes, colored nail polish, and long nails on women.

Carl Greene Gets PHA in Trouble Again for Sexual Harassment

The lasting legacy of Carl Greene’s decade-long career as head of the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) just may be one significant sexual harassment liability for the city.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the PHA has offered a $500,000 settlement to a former employee who accused Greene of sexual harassment. If she accepts, the woman would be the fourth to settle such a claim with the PHA.

Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) employee Joseph DeJohn has been suspended and faces dismissal after allegedly making gay slurs and threatening a couple in Queen Village.

According to the Philadelphia Daily News, the trouble started when Jon Gunderson and his partner were taking a walk in their neighborhood and spotted a PPA vehicle they believed to be illegally parked. As the PPA is trusted to enforce Philadelphia parking laws, Gunderson thought that it was ironic that the car was parked in a no-parking zone and took a picture of the car intending to post in on Facebook as a joke.

However, Joseph DeJohn, the PPA employee driving the vehicle, did not find Gunderson's attempts at humor to be so funny, reports the Daily News. After he saw Gunderson and his partner snapping the pictures, DeJohn shouted a series of gay slurs at the couple.

Pennsylvania Overtime: Robyn Pugh Earning OT After 30 Hours

Middle Smithfield Township golf and sewer director Robyn Pugh is reportedly earning overtime premium pay after working only 30 hours in a week -- exceeding requirements in Pennsylvania overtime law.

According to the Pocono Record, Pugh earns an annual $90,000 salary. Yet, the Record reports that she's on track to earn $146,869 her first year on the job while working just a little over 40 hours per week (she averages 42.6 hours a week).

Why the income disparity between Pugh's contracted wages and the wages she actually receives? Because the township and Pugh agreed that the $90,000 annual salary would be based on a 30-hour workweek and that she would earn overtime after 30 hours, reports the Record.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced the $20 million Verizon settlement representing the agency's largest ever settlement in a disability discrimination case.

According to the EEOC's announcement, Verizon Communications, the telecom giant, was accused of discriminating against hundreds of disabled workers nationwide. The EEOC claimed that the discrimination stemmed from Verizon's "no fault" attendance policy that negatively affected workers with disabilities.

The no fault attendance policy basically gave all employees (disabled or not) a set number of allowable absences. If employees exceeded that number, they were disciplined and sometimes terminated.

A female producer for Bachelor Pad was fired for allegedly sexually harassing potential cast member Bachelorette bachelor Craig Robinson.

According to Reality TV World, Robinson, a Philadelphia attorney, was dropped from consideration for the upcoming season of Bachelor Pad after he rejected advances from a female producer, Karri-Leigh Mastrangelo.

A contestant on Ali Fedowtowsky's season of the Bachelorette, Robinson claims that he was intensely pursued by Mastrangelo during the casting for the spin-off. Robinson says that Mastrangelo sent him messages claiming that she was in love with him and texted him photos of herself in racy lingerie and in a dominatrix costume, writes TV World.

US DOL Looking for Wage Violations in PA Hotels

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is cracking down on Pennsylvania hotels in a search for wage violations.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the DOL conducted 165 investigations of state hotels over a three-year period finding violations to 900 workers for failure to pay minimum wage and overtime.

Investigating hotels, the DOL is focusing on a pool of workers often comprised of recent immigrants or uneducated people, reports the Inquirer. These workers are often taken advantage of because either they are unaware of, or afraid to speak up for, their rights.