Philadelphia Employment Law News

March 2012 Archives

Woman Sues McDonald's Over Prostitution?

McDonald's is a popular scapegoat for many of society's ills. Despite the fact that they are only one of dozens of fast food restaurant chains in the United States, they have shouldered much of the blame for the nation's obesity epidemic. The seemingly infinite number of locations worldwide compete against small restaurants and have put many out of business. Their coffee burned at least one woman's groin, thighs, and buttocks and they are currently being sued for two more coffee burn incidents.

Fair or not, they have been blamed for health issues, labor issues, economic woes, and now a woman is blaming the chain for sex trafficking, reports the Courthouse News Service.

New Law Could Prohibit Unemployment Discrimination

As of February 2012, there were nearly 13 million unemployed Americans or 8.3% of the workforce, reports the Associated Press. The recession and unemployment numbers however, are not news to most Americans. But what might surprise them is the widespread discrimination against the unemployed.

The mindset of the person hiring seems to be that if someone has been unemployed for an extended period, then that person must be lazy or have some sort of defective personality or skill. In a thriving economy where jobs are at a surplus, such logic might actually make sense.

Will Your Interviewer Ask for Your Facebook Password?

How far would you go to get a job? Would you let an interviewer come to your house to see if you are tidy, responsible, or how much beer is in the refrigerator? Well, a growing practice used by employers has been compared to handing an interviewer the keys to your home. Increasingly, interviewers are asking for your Facebook login and password.

Most people would agree this is an invasive way to conduct an interview, but is it illegal? The short answer is no — not yet anyway. Although some states are considering passing laws against the practice, there is no specific legal protection at this time. Much the same way interviewers have so much leeway in what kind of information they can seek directly from you — what were your grades in school, did you get fired from your last job — they are now finding new ways to answer those questions about just who you are, reports the New York Daily News.

Hiring Military Vets: Good or Bad for Business?

National Energy Solutions Inc., based in Levittown, is hiring; and they are hoping to hire veterans. The company was founded in 2007, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer, and makes energy saving light fixtures for commercial spaces. Right now, three of the company's twelve employees are veterans.

Why would this company make an effort to hire U.S. vets? One reason is that company co-founder Ray Sizer is himself a veteran of the Navy. He says, "It's just a good thing to do." While Sizer may be right about that, it isn't necessarily something that many employers in the Philadelphia area are making an effort to do.

Employers have to maintain a safe workplace. This can include removing workplace hazards, dangerous conditions, and even managing employees who make threats. In addition, employers have to address workplace bullying, harassment, and other problems. If they don't, you could have a situation like what happened between two workers at Penn Manufacturing in Montgomery Township.

A 74-year-old maintenance worker at the shop apparently lost it after claiming to be harassed by a coworker, reports Montgomery Media. Jesse Felder brought a homemade club to work with 32 protruding screws, and then proceeded to attack an unidentified coworker.

Entire Arena Football League Team Fired at Olive Garden

What better place to have a team dinner (or mass firing) than the Olive Garden?

The owner of the Arena Football League team the Pittsburgh Power, Matt Shaner, took the team out for some pasta and breadsticks hours before their game against the Orlando Predators and told everyone at the dinner table they were fired.

The AFL players had been set to strike, but Shaner apparently wanted to deal the first blow with the AFL team firing. Mid-meal, all of the players got up and left, reports Yahoo!Sports. The players and the league had reportedly been having differences over game checks and the union wanted a 300 percent increase. Sounds like quite a significant raise, but hold judgment until you learn how much the players were actually getting paid.

Reasons Why Joe Paterno Was Fired -- Clarified Again

Joe Paterno was Penn State football and his termination did not sit well with many of the university’s alumni. The man had given almost all of his life to Penn State, and his termination over the telephone during the height of the Jerry Sandusky scandal was viewed as insulting to the legend. The fact that Paterno died just a few months after being fired only made the criticism that much stronger.

So the Penn State trustees decided to face their critics and clarify again the reasons why Joe Paterno fired.

In the SugarHouse Casino discrimination claim, Cory Ballard says that the casino terminated him from his position as player services agent on account of his race.

Ballard, a 25-year-old African-American from North Philadelphia, says that SugarHouse selectively fired him due to his race. SugarHouse says it terminated Ballard because he violated company policy, an offense that Ballard was previously terminated for, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Is the Alexander Wang 'Sweatshop' Really Illegal?

From sweatshop to runway? Fashion designer Alexander Wang is accused of running a New York Chinatown mill to produce his high style eponymous clothing line.

In a $50 million Alexander Wang sweatshop lawsuit, the designer is alleged to have forced 30 workers to work 16 hour days without overtime pay, reports the New York Post. One worker says he was even hospitalized after working 25 hours straight without a break and passed out. He said he worked those hours because he was threatened with termination.

The worker was eventually fired anyway.

Hurricane Grill and Wings Sexual Harassment Suit Settles

When most people think of sexual harassment, they think about managers harassing underlings or coworkers harassing fellow coworkers. But in the Hurricane Grill and Wings sexual harassment lawsuit, the restaurant chain was accused of customer sexual harassment of employees.

This case is important for employers to know as Hurricane Grill could have been held liable not for the acts of people they control — their employees — but for the acts of total outsiders, their customers.

The EEOC's Focus on Muslim Discrimination At Work

It speaks volumes that the only religious guidance the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has posted on its website regarding a specific religion is Muslim discrimination at work.

After September 11, 2001, the EEOC says that it has documented a significant increase in the number of charges alleging workplace discrimination based on religion and national origin. Many of the charges have been filed by individuals who are or are perceived to be Muslim, Arab, South Asian, or Sikh. The following are three common examples of the type of discrimination individuals in these groups face.

Religious Discrimination at Work: What is Religion?

Employers should be careful as pretty much any belief about ultimate ideas or about life, purpose, and death can be considered a religious belief under federal discrimination laws. So if you don’t allow an employee to celebrate his dog’s birthday, you could violate discrimination laws if the dog is sincerely believed to be the employee’s God.

So what is religion? Federal law defines religion very broadly and includes not only traditional, organized religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, but also religious beliefs that are new, uncommon, not part of a formal church or sect, only subscribed to by a small number of people, or that seem illogical or unreasonable to others, says the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).