Philadelphia Employment Law News

July 2012 Archives

WARN Act: Important for Kentucky Coal Miners and Plant Workers

It may have happened to you while you were working at the plant or the mine, there was a massive layoff of tens or hundreds of employees. Do you remember if there was a notice of the layoff? Under federal law it's likely you should have seen one, if it happened in the last 20 plus years.

But it seems like companies might still be having a hard time following this law, as a lawsuit has been filed by 139 miners who claim they were recently laid off without notice. The miners say that Frasure Creek Mining and Trinity Coal Corporation violated the WARN Act in their termination of the miners, according to Courthouse News Service.

School District and Union Sign Contract, Jobs Safe But No Raises

The news is filled with stories about unions having to renegotiate their contracts because of budget shortfalls or potential bankruptcy. The story of Philadelphia school's blue collar workers is no different. The city is in a budget crisis like most other cities in the nation and needs to save money however it can.

The workers, represented by 32BJ Service Employees International Union Local 1201, had been threatened with lay offs at the beginning of the summer. Now, the new contract keeps all employees, which includes bus aides, drivers, and building engineers, on a contract that expires in August 2016, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

One Touch too Much: EEOC Wins $350k for Sexual Harassment Victims

Going to our jobs is usually painful enough for most of us. There is no need to add on problems once you're already there. Unfortunately, these things happen. What is good is that when it gets nasty, you can bring your problems to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") and have them heard.

In this case, the EEOC won in a jury trial for sexual harassment. The CEO and CFO of Endoscopic Microsurgery Associates in Baltimore had been subjecting their employees to unwanted sexual advances and eventually fired the employees for rejecting the advances, according to the EEOC. Before firing the women, the medical practice retaliated against them by rescinding approved leave and applying unwarranted discipline.

Philadelphia Union Coach Claims Breach of Contract in Firing

Piotr Nowak was one of the coaches of the 2008 U.S. Olympic soccer team. After coaching that team, he was hired as the team manager for the Philadelphia Union soccer team, according to Courthouse News Service.

Nowak signed a contract with the team to be the team manager from 2009 until December 2012, according to his complaint. In December 2011, he was promoted to manager and executive vice president of soccer operations. This promotion extended his contract to December 2015.

Now, Nowak claims that he was fired in breach of his contract extension.

Sleeping on the Job at PPA Will Get You Fired, but Could Keep UC

There are all kinds of reasons why we don't get enough sleep. Some are fun, some not so much. No matter the cause, it is usually against the rules to sleep on the job. Naturally, if you break the rules and are caught, you'll probably lose that job. And if you're intentionally breaking them, you probably won't get Unemployment Compensation ("UC") either.

Charlene Henney worked the night shift at the Philadelphia Parking Authority ("PPA") from 3:30pm to midnight. During her shifts she usually got drowsy because of her later diagnosed sleep apnea, so she asked her supervisor at PPA for more work to keep her awake, according to Upon Further Review. The PPA didn't give her the extra work and there were several occasions when Henney was found to be asleep.

The PPA fired Henney for sleeping on the job and then contested her application for UC, who do you think won?

Firefighters Sue City to Enforce Contract; First Raise in 4 Years

When you work in a job for an extended period of time, you usually expect to be recognized for your hard work with periodic pay raises, a promotion, or even a bonus now or then. Now pretend that you are a firefighter and you've risked your life in burning buildings, some of which weren't even occupied, you've seen comrades die -- and yet the city has not recognized your work.

Philadelphia firefighters say they have gone through exactly that. In 2009, the city's contract with the firefighter's union expired and the two parties have failed to reach an agreement ever since, according to the Philadelphia Tribune.

King of Prussia Wet Seal Manager Sues for Racial Discrimination

When you think of Wet Seal stores, do you think of sea creatures or of cute juniors' clothes? Either way, if you discriminate against managers of either product on the basis of race, you are just asking for a lawsuit (and are an overall bad person).

Local King of Prussia Wet Seal Manager Nicole Cogdell has accused Wet Seal of racial discrimination through discriminatory policies that included failure to promote, demotion, and termination, according to the Philadelphia Tribune.

Cogdell claims that vice president of store operations Barbara Bachman made the comment to Cogdell's co-worker that she expected the manager to be blonde with blue eyes, and then later sent out an email to executives and managers stating that it is an issue that African Americans are dominating the company.

Starting a Family? See If You Can Get Time Off Under the FMLA

Have you finally decided to make the plunge into having a family? Now that you've given in to the idea that your life will forever change at home, do you know what it has in store for your work life?

There are state and federal laws that provide you with some time, but you need to know if you qualify for them before asking for the time off. That's where FindLaw's handy mini-guide comes into play. Read on to find out about what the guide provides and how it helps you get some time off for your new baby.

Parx Parkettes Claim Discrimination in Cocktail Waitress Demotion

When you head down to the Parx Casino, you can't help but notice the Parx Parkettes, who are around serving cocktails to the patrons of the casino. You may notice that they are all somewhat above average looking and none are overweight.

This may be luck, or it could be discrimination according to a lawsuit filed by two former cocktail waitresses, reports the Philadelphia Daily News. The suit claims that the waitresses were demoted when they became pregnant, being told that they could continue to be Parkettes until their costumes no longer fit.

Both women were offered non-tip-earning jobs at the concession stand or in players services. The women claim this is discrimination, is it?

Does Pennsylvania Forbid Appearance Discrimination?

Not all of us can be America's Next Top Model or look fabulous when we buy clothes at the new Topshop coming to Nordstrom in King of Prussia. But does this mean that employers can decide whether we get or keep our next job based on our looks alone?

While there have been lawsuits filed against Hooters, Starbucks, and Panera based on claims that people were fired for their looks, we have to look closer at those claims to see exactly what law was used in the suit.

What's in a Business Name? Hopefully Not Someone Else's

Let's say you've got your great food truck idea and now you're thinking up the name and logo for the side of your truck. If you go online to get ideas, be careful if you use an image or design that you find there.

If you want to know what happens if you use a well-known design, just ask Olympic Gyro at the Reading Terminal. This lunch counter was just served with a cease-and-desist letter from none other than the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), according to the Philadelphia Daily News. The letter demands that Olympic Gyro remove the word "Olympic" from the lunch counter's name and take down the 5 ring Olympic logo from its sign.

No Decision on Philadelphia School Layoffs; Negotiations Continue

For hundreds of Philadelphia School District bus aides, mechanics and others, the threat of layoffs has loomed for weeks and now a deadline approaches as 500 of the 2,700 pink-slipped employees of the district will be terminated on Friday, July 13th unless an agreement is reached between the district and the employees' union, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The district's main issue in its negotiations is the lowering of costs for labor, maintenance, and transportation, according to the Inquirer. So far, the union has offered up $20 million in concessions to help ease the district's $282 million budget deficit.

Sunoco Refinery to Stay Open; Union Renegotiates Terms

After much ado, it was announced that the Sunoco refinery in Philadelphia will stay open, leaving it the oldest and largest refinery on the East Coast, reports WPVI-TV. The deal saves 850 current jobs and looks to create 200 more positions.

The refinery will stay open thanks to the Carlyle group, and its joint venture with Sunoco to keep the refinery open and upgrade it to take advantage of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale region, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Part of the deal included renegotiating a new three-year contract with the Steelworkers Local 10-1, that was voted on Monday night.

Union members were reportedly "over the moon" about the deal, but what does a new contract mean, and how does it come into being?

Coatesville Police: Sex Scandal and Now Racial Discrimination?

It seems like the police force in Coatesville can't catch a break. Perhaps this is their own fault though. About 5 years ago, the Coatesville Police completed an investigation into 5 officers accused of sexually assaulting a woman while on duty, recommending that the officers be fired, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Instead of being fired, these white officers were allegedly promoted over their minority counterparts, according to a lawsuit filed by Coatesville Police Corporal Larry Cooper, reports the Inquirer. The suit alleges that the police department practices intentional discrimination in both hiring and promotion, with claims that the population of Coatesville is 46% black while the police force is only 15% black, according to the complaint on Courthouse News.