Pittsburgh Employment Law Blog

When are employers liable for their employees' actions?

As an employer, it is likely that you will encounter a situation at some point where an employee gets in trouble with the law or is responsible for damages while at work. In a situation such as this, it may be initially unclear as to whether the employer is liable for the employee's mistake, or whether the employee is individually liable.

Therefore, it is important that employers take the time to understand the responsibilities that individual employees have versus the potential liabilities that employers could face. Employers can often be held liable for certain misconduct, even if the employer did no wrong or had no intention of causing harm.

Understanding the rights of independent contractors

As an employer, you may occasionally need to hire independent contractors in order to get the job done. While this can be an economically efficient way to bring in extra resources for a particular project, it is important to understand the intricacies of employee classification under the law, and how you can work to avoid any legal breaches and litigation as a result.

The most key point to note is that independent contractors are not the same as employees under the law; therefore, they should never be treated as such. It is always best to create a written agreement when initiating a working relationship with an independent contractor so that you know where rights and responsibilities stand.

Tip pooling laws in Pennsylvania

While many Pennsylvania employers want to use tip pooling with employees -- a practice that involves taking everyone's tips and distributing them evenly amongst everyone -- it can be against the law if not done correctly. In addition, the practice of tip pooling may change very soon in the state due to efforts from the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association to expand tips to everyone who works at a restaurant as long as everyone makes at least minimum wage. 

For employers considering tip pooling, it is critical to be aware of what the current law is. However, the information below barely scratches the surface of what you may need to know, which is why it should not be relied upon as legal advice -- and why you should always contact an attorney should you have any questions. 

What employers need to know about disability laws

As an employer, it is important that you understand the nature of all the laws in place that protect your employees. This is so that you can create an environment where these laws are obeyed at all times, and also so that you can protect yourself from being exposed to employer litigation claims. By investing time in learning about the law, you have the power to prevent costly lawsuits from arising further down the line.

Learning about the rights and protections of disabled people in the workplace is no exception. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is in place to make sure that disabled people are legally protected from shortcomings they might face in the workplace.

Preventing whistleblower litigation in Pennsylvania

As an employer, it is important that you prevent any disputes with employees from arising. It is possible to do this successfully by staying aware of the rights that your employees have under the law in Pennsylvania. This is especially true when it comes to whistleblower laws.

Whistleblower laws are in place in order to protect those who have made a complaint. The complaint made could be an employee's experience of harassment, or it might be that he or she believes that the work environment is unsafe. Whatever the complaint is, the employee is protected from direct retaliation for a certain amount of time. This is done in order to protect the worker but also to avoid disincentivizing workers in general from making complaints.

When workers are misclassified

As a Pennsylvania small business owner, it may be your responsibility to classify your employees correctly with regard to whether they are actual employees or independent contractors. Classifying your employees appropriately from the outset is critical, because there are some very important distinctions between the two types of workers, and inaccurately claiming that an employee is an independent contractor can land you in some serious hot water.

In brief, independent contractors set their own hours, meaning labor laws do not apply to them, and independent contractors also typically have far more freedom and pay their own way with regard to payroll taxes. When you have formal employees, on the other hand, you are on the hook for more, tax-wise, which can lead some business owners to intentionally misclassify their workers. If you misclassify your workers and the Internal Revenue Service catches the error, however, you can anticipate an audit, and, quite possibly, considerable fines and fees.

Wage violations in the gas drilling industry

All workers in the United States are protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This means that they have certain rights such as having a minimum wage and in many cases, being paid at a rate of 1.5 times their normal wage for overtime hours worked.

Over the last couple of years, it has come to light that many workers in the oil and gas drilling industries have not been paid what they deserve as outlined in the FLSA. Therefore, if you are a worker in the oil and gas industry, it is important that you take the time to learn what you are entitled to so that you can take action if you are owed money by your employer.

What to do when your employee took fraudulent sick leave

When employees take sick leave, you will want to respect their rights as employees and make sure that they take adequate time to recover so they can be effective employees when they return back to work. However, while you probably want to believe that your employees are trustworthy and have the right intentions for the company, you may have reason to suspect that they are taking sick leave fraudulently.

You might be suspicious because you have noticed that a certain employee will only take sick leave around holiday seasons, or that he or she claims to be very ill yet only takes one day leave and comes back the next day feeling fine. Here's what to do if you believe that one of your employees is taking fraudulent sick leave.

What are unfair business practices?

Making your business successful requires lots of effort, skill and ingenuity. If you do it right, you can build a strong company with a solid customer base and ample financial support. However, if you do things wrong, you can find a lawsuit in your hands.

One of the ways you may unintentionally mess up is through unfair business practices. This term is broad, so looking at it more closely can help you avoid getting into trouble from your own illegal activity or that of other companies.

Employers should know the risks of staffing agencies

Staffing agencies can be a great way to help companies efficiently and cost-effectively fill workforce needs and sudden vacancies. It means that a business can employ staff without the massive costs of an in-house recruitment team.

Although there are a significant amount of benefits to hiring employees through staffing agencies, it is important that all employers approach this strategy with caution. This is because staffing agencies' practices have the potential to create legal issues that could prove costly further down the line.