Pittsburgh Employment Law Blog

Avoiding harassment lawsuits as an employer

The more recent employee awareness and heightened sensitivity toward what constitutes harassment and discrimination in the workplace has lead to a sharp increase in claims initiated by employees.

As an employer, you can not control the actions and the behaviors of every individual employee; however, you can put certain procedures in place to minimize the risk.

Dealing with the abuse of medical leave

As an employer, you will undoubtedly have had to deal with many occasions of employees taking an excessive amount of medical leave, leading you to suspect that they were abusing the system. Of course employees have the right to stay at home and recover when they are sick, but believing that your company may be suffering due to those who are abusing their right to sick leave can be concerning.

You might be frustrated by a doctor's note that was unspecific and ambiguous. However, you could be concerned about the consequences of bringing up the issue to your employee. It's important to deal with issues such as these professionally and have a formal procedure.

FLSA violations in the gas drilling industry

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 protects employees by establishing minimum wage, overtime pay and other regulations to ensure fair employment. Businesses do well abiding by these laws to prevent expensive litigation from mistreated workers.

Not all lawsuits stem from intentional mistreatment by employers to save money, however. Sometimes poor record keeping, ignorance of the law and other negligent acts can land businesses in the courtroom. Such violations of the FLSA, intentional or not, are ever present in the gas drilling industry. Be aware of these common problems to avoid a lawsuit on your hands.

Preventing discrimination lawsuits is crucial

There is a heightened awareness of discrimination in the workplace, and people are more informed than ever about what counts as harassment, exploitation or discrimination. Every workplace faces a risk of becoming a place where such behavior occurs, because employers simply cannot control the actions of all of their employees. However, when these instances do occur, it can be extremely detrimental to the company in question because it is costly, diminishes morale, and can generate negative publicity which can damage the business' reputation. The following are some key ways to prevent a discrimination lawsuit being raised at your company.

Create strict guidelines that everyone is aware of

Is tip sharing illegal?

When you are working in a bar or restaurant, the tips that you make from high quality customer service are likely to be what you depend on in order to pay your rent. Therefore, you will put a lot of effort into ensuring that your customers have a great experience. But when your hard-earned tips are being pooled and shared with other members of staff, you might feel like you have been short-changed. Here's a short overview of the legalities of tip pooling and what you can do about it.

When tip-sharing is legal?

Avoiding overtime lawsuits in Pennsylvania

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has a set of guidelines for employers. One of these is demanding that employers categorize their employees as either exempt or nonexempt from the FLSA's overtime pay. The common and dangerous mistake that employers make is misclassifying their employees as exempt from the Overtime Labor Law. In doing this, employees can bring about a lawsuit and reclaim up to three times their normal hourly rate for the overtime that they were not paid enough for.

Classifying employees the right way

What employers must know about the Family and Medical Leave Act

Most people, at some point in their lives, encounter a medical problem or need to take time off work because of demands from the family. Therefore, as an employer, you will have to deal with the issues that relate to employee rights and the subjects raised in the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

It is important as an employer to make sure that you are giving your employees what they are entitled to; therefore, you should be well aware of the rights that your employees have to prevent any employment litigation that it is possible to face.

Dealing with disputes as an employer

Disputes with employees are an unavoidable part of being an employer. Although they are not the most pleasant of situations to be in, they can be handled professionally and maturely once you have done the adequate research and know the appropriate protocol.

Consider the following information to help prevent employee/employer disputes:

Avoiding employer liability for workplace harassment

As an employer in the United States, you have a duty to prevent and address harassment that occurs in your place of business. Taking steps to do so is extremely important, and it can also help you down the line in the event an employee files a harassment claim against you.

Workplace harassment can take on many forms, and employees may file claims if they feel they are victims of sexual harassment or other forms of harassment based on race, age, gender, disability or what have you. It is also worth noting that employees do not have to be direct victims of harassing behavior to file harassment claims against you; they may also do so if they are affected or offended by the behavior. Just how liable your business is to harassment lawsuits depends on several factors, among them the employment actions taken with regard to the alleged harassment.

Are your noncompete agreements reasonable?

As an employer, it is well within your interests to make sure that any intellectual property, as well as loyal clients, are not "stolen" by any former employee after he or she leaves your company. Therefore, it is very important that you include some kind of noncompete agreement in their employment contract.

Occasionally a prospective employee will refuse to sign the agreement. If this happens, you may have concerns and as a result might wonder whether you still want to hire this person. They may pose a risk to your intellectual property and client base. In this situation, make sure to proceed with caution. The refusal to hire them might be permissible depending on the details of the case.