Philadelphia Employment Law News

May 2012 Archives

Philly Beer Week: Does This Make It OK to Drink at Work?

It looks like the third annual Philly Beer Week is upon us. This means plenty of establishments having special events, and that may busy up your favorite watering hole. So, you may ask, if the bars are full, can I crack one open in my office to avoid the crowds?

That's what was happening at the offices of the Philadelphia Inquirer, where the tasting and judging was to take place for the 48 beers entered this year. Young staffers asked whether the large amount of beer being brought to the office was for an office-wide beer pong competition.

Maybe that would be where to draw the line at office drinking.

How to Fire an Employee in Philadelphia

Do you know a business that has some employees that are not holding up their end of the bargain? Perhaps there is a business that needs to close and it has some employees that need to be let go first. In any case, here is a quick checklist before the business owner goes down the hall and pretends to be Donald Trump on “The Apprentice.”

Knowing that Philadelphia is an “at will” locale means that the business owner most likely only need concern himself or herself with a few simple checks.

Lost Your Job? Who Hasn't? FindLaw's Guide Helps You Through

Well, it looks like the Sixers held on to their jobs against the Celtics. But not so lucky are Dexter Pittman and Udonis Haslem of the Miami Heat, who are suspended after a recent game.

In the same way Pittman and Haslem were suspended for retaliation against the opposing team, so too can your boss be reprimanded for retaliating against you. If you reported wrongdoing at work, or filed a workers’ comp claim, and then were fired for doing so, you may have a lawsuit to file against your employer.

Unlike the end of the season or temporary suspension for a professional athlete, losing a real job is downright depressing.

Recently, Lauren Odes claimed that she was fired for being "too hot" from the lingerie wholesaler where she worked. The New York Magazine also reported that Odes, with the help of her attorney, Gloria Allred, filed an EEOC complaint charging gender and religious discrimination.

One barrier to these types of claims is that all employment in Pennsylvania is "at will" unless there is a specific contract saying otherwise. What does that mean, you ask? It is exactly what it sounds like. At will employment means that you or your employer can end your employment at any time for any legal reason, without notice.

Class Certified in Age Discrim Case Against Pitt Glass Works

An important milestone has been reached in the litigation process against Pittsburg Glass Works over alleged age discrimination, reports glassBYTEs. Earlier this week, the U.S. District Court for Western Pennsylvania granted class certification to the former employees.

In March 2009, Rudolph Karlo, Mark McLure, William Cunningham, Jeffrey Marietti, David Meixelsberger, Benjamin Thompson, and Richard Csukas, plus an unknown amount of other workers, were laid off as part of a reorganization effort.

EEOC: Top Five Employment Claims Sued Over in Pennsylvania

Thanks to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s trend towards transparency, the statistics for types of discrimination charges and origins of charges have been released in a handy searchable format for each state and territory in the Unites States.

Pennsylvania’s numbers fluctuated quite a bit over the three years available. In 2009, there were 3,448 complaints, or 3.7% of the total complaints in the United States. In 2010, the number shot up to 4,708, or 4.7%. In 2011, it dropped to 4,302 but was still 4.3% of the country’s total.

For the most recent year, these are the five most popular claims. Because some litigants claim multiple forms of discrimination, there may be people who are in multiple categories.

How to Start a Food Truck in Philadelphia

If there is one growth sector in this miserable soul-crushing economy, it’s gotta be the food truck industry. Philly food trucks have grown from dingy aluminum shacks, serving precooked sludge to gourmet restaurants on wheels. The movement has grown so much, that not only did the Philadelphia Inquirer do an entire feature on the movement, but just last week, The New York Times covered the Philly Food Truck scene in their Travel section.

Clearly, this is a growing industry. For those of you restaurateurs who cannot or will not drop hundreds of thousands in startup costs on a brick and mortar location, the food truck should be where you set your sights. In addition to lower startup costs, there’s more connection with the customers and the location’s always changing.

So how do you get in on the trend?

Whistleblowing: Camden School District Admin Fired for Not Lying?

Monise Princilus is the former director of human resources for the Camden City Public Schools, and is a little upset about that "former" part, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. According to Ms. Princilus, she was placed on leave, and then did not have her contract renewed, because she refused to lie on the superintendent's behalf.

Superintendent Bessie LeFra Young is the head honcho of the Camden district. According to the Inquirer, she's come under fire lately for allegedly missing an entire school year's worth of days over the past year and a half. Young claims the absences were due to a chronic illness.

McQueary Filing a Whisteblower Action Against Penn State?

According to NBC 10 Philadelphia, reports have surfaced over the past couple of days that Penn State Assistant Coach Mike McQueary, who has been on administrative leave since the Jerry Sandusky scandal erupted, is now planning on filing a lawsuit against Penn State.

The crux of the whistleblower lawsuit is presumably that Penn State is punishing him for cooperating with the Sandusky investigation, which would be a violation of labor laws.

EEOC: Title VII Protects Against Transgender Discrimination

The EEOC sure has been busy lately. Earlier, they issued new guidelines on the consideration of criminal history and background checks during the pre-employment phase, plus won a case that may have expanded ADA protection to the severely obese.

Now, they have ruled that Title VII, which traditionally has been interpreted to require equality amongst the sexes to require equality amongst all genders, including those who are in the process of, or have completed, transitioning between genders, reports Metro Weekly.

U.S. District Court: Severe Obesity is an ADA Disability

Much like my waistline, the field of disabled Americans protected by the ADA may have just expanded to the severely obese, thanks to recent opinions by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, reports

Lisa Harrison worked as a prevention and intervention specialist at a facility that fought chemical dependencies, Family House in Louisiana, which is owned by Resources for Human Development. She was hired in 1999 and fired in late 2007, reportedly for being severely obese.

Harrison’s weight problem existed at the time she was hired and continued throughout her employment, though she was still able to carry out the essential tasks of her job. She passed away in 2009, yet the suit lives on thanks to the EEOC pressing forward on behalf of her estate.

Paralegal Sues Fragomen LLP Over FMLA, ADA and Extended Leave

Jacqueline Heenan worked for Philadelphia-based law firm Fragomen, Del Ray, Bernsen & Lowey LLP for less than a year before she got a troubling medical diagnosis. She needed leave from her employer due to open heart surgery, reports the Pennsylvania Record.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Family Medical Leave Act, temporary disabilities such as Heenan's surgery require the employer to make reasonable accomodations, like an extended leave of absence. If the employee has paid leave, they should be allowed to use that first, followed by as much unpaid leave as is necessary.