PA FEDERAL COURTS ANALYZE PHRA DISABILITY CLAIMS UNDER PRE-ADAAA STANDARDS

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled in Riley v. St. Mary’s Medical Center that, while the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (“ADAAA”) altered the federal standard for proving a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act and as the Pennsylvania legislature has not enacted a similar amendment to the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (“PHRA”), the higher, pre-ADAAA standard for proving “disability” will apply to a plaintiff’s PHRA disability claim. pic

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DON’T MAKE DECISIONS IN THE BLIND

An employee who has 20/20 vision asks to bring a service animal—a “seeing eye dog”—into work. Must you permit the employee to do so? You might feel that this is the sort of question for which you don’t need to consult with an attorney. The answer is obviously, “No,” right? What if the employee also trains service animals on the side? Must you allow the employee to bring the animal in to work? The answer might surprise you.
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WAGE-AND-HOUR IMPLICATIONS FOR TELECOMMUTING

The practice of allowing employees to work from home – telecommuting – is a growing trend.  After all, today’s technology allows employees to work from almost anywhere, and telecommuting can be beneficial for both employers and employees.  For employers, telecommunicating can be a less expensive alternative to traditional brick and mortar locations.  Employees like telecommuting because of the flexibility it provides. 784x2048

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DIFFICULT SITUATION KNOW-HOW: WHAT TO DO IF AN EMPLOYEE SEEMS SUICIDAL

As people in the world, we face difficult situations all the time.  If someone seems sad or depressed, we may want to help but not know how.  When it’s your employee who is going through tough times, you may have legal concerns to worry about too.  It’s good to be as prepared as possible beforehand.  For example, let’s imagine that one of your employees seems depressed and starts making comments around the workplace about hurting him or herself.

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RETHINKING “LIGHT DUTY”

It is no secret that employers often struggle with fashioning light duty jobs for employees on the mend. A growing trend, however, is for employers to send employees in need of light duty assignments to work for charitable or community organizations wherein the employee receives his or her regular wage and the organization receives a “volunteer.”  By engaging in community service, the employee is returning to a job and is productive, albeit in new and different ways.  The employer is getting the benefit of goodwill in the community, as well as assisting the employee in the healing and reconditioning process.light-duty-job_sm

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EEOC ISSUES UPDATED PREGNANCY DISCRIMINATION GUIDANCE

On July 14, 2014, the EEOC issued Updated Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination, as well as a set of Questions and Answers and a Fact Sheet for small businesses related to that Guidance.  This is the first comprehensive update to the Commission’s pregnancy discrimination guidance since 1983.  eeoc

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WEST VIRGINIA SUPREME COURT FINDS ADR AGREEMENT IT CAN LIVE WITH

In an important win for employers seeking to resolve disputes with former employees outside of the circuit courts, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals recently upheld a circuit court decision that compelled a former employee to submit his wrongful termination dispute to alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) rather than pursue the claim in court.  Although the West Virginia Supreme Court often finds ADR agreements to be unenforceable, it’s important to note why they found this one was acceptable.

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OBAMA’S NLRB COMES TO OSHA’S RESCUE

Retaliation against an employee who has filed a complaint, testified, or exercised any right under OSHA is a violation of that Act.  OSHA, however, has a small window of opportunity for an employee who believes he has been retaliated against by his employer to bring a claim before OSHA.  To be timely, an employee must file his whistleblower complaint with OSHA within thirty days from the date of an adverse action. alphabet-soup-save-me-7040755

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AFFORDABLE CARE ACT SWITCHING FROM COBRA TO MARKETPLACE COVERAGE – ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY

The first open enrollment period for obtaining health coverage through the ACA’s Health Insurance Marketplace ended on March 31, 2014.  That means that individuals without coverage can no longer obtain private coverage through the Marketplace for 2014 unless they are eligible for special enrollment by virtue of having a “qualifying life event.”  Qualifying events for purposes of COBRA are also “qualifying life events” under the Marketplace rules.  So, for example, a participant in an employer-sponsored group health plan who loses coverage under the plan due to termination of employment (other than for gross misconduct) is eligible for COBRA coverage or may purchase Marketplace coverage in lieu of COBRA.  This “special enrollment event” for Marketplace coverage is available for 60 days from the time coverage under the employer’s group health plan ends.

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U.S. SUPREME COURT INVALIDATES OBAMA’S NLRB RECESS APPOINTMENTS

On Thursday, June 26, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long-awaited ruling in NLRB v. Noel Canning, a case where a soda bottler and distributor challenged an NLRB enforcement Order and claimed that the Board did not have a requisite quorum of members to issue the Order because three of its members, at the time,  had been unconstitutionally appointed.  After the District of Columbia Circuit Court sided with Noel Canning, the Supreme Court affirmed, and ruled on the Board’s appeal that the three recess appointments President Obama made to the NLRB in January 2012 were indeed unconstitutional. 042313_nlrb_600

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