Category Archives: General Employer Interest

WEST VIRGINIA EMPLOYEES CAN KEEP GUNS IN THEIR CARS – WHAT EMPLOYERS NEED TO KNOW

On June 8, 2018, the Business Liability Protection Act (a.k.a “the Parking Lot Gun Bill”) goes into effect and creates a series of new standards which prohibit employers from maintaining or establishing “no firearms” policies in vehicles on company-owned parking lots and property where vehicles are parked. Read More »

IN PENNSYLVANIA, OFF-COLOR COMMENTS MAY CREATE MORE LIABILITY THAN A SEXUAL HARASSMENT CLAIM

Despite the “#MeToo” Movement, it’s still not uncommon for workers to make comments concerning a co-worker’s sexual practices. Nor is it uncommon for employers to successfully defeat sexual harassment claims based on such conduct by citing the well-established case law that discrimination statutes do not mandate a pristine work environment – shop-talk is not actionable.  Read More »

AN “EPIC” OPINION: SUPREME COURT GIVES GREEN LIGHT TO CLASS ACTION WAIVERS IN ARBITRATION AGREEMENTS

On May 21, 2018, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision holding that class action waivers in employment arbitration agreements were valid and enforceable in the face of a challenge under the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”), resolving a significant disagreement among lower federal courts. By way of background, the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), passed in 1925, provides for enforcement of agreements between parties to resolve disputes through private arbitration, rather than in court.  Under the FAA’s “savings clause,” arbitration agreements may generally only be voided under traditional contract principles (for example, in cases of duress or unconscionability). Read More »

ERISA’S NEW CLAIMS AND APPEALS PROCEDURES FOR DISABILITY BENEFIT CLAIMS

“It’s a New Dawn; It’s a New Day; It’s a New Life for Me; and I’m Feeling [not so] Good”

While Nina Simone’s song captures the power of “feeling good,” the effects of an employee’s disability do not feel good for the employee or employer. And if your organization offers employee benefits that require the plan administrator to determine whether a plan participant is disabled, you should confirm that your plans reflect updated claims and appeal procedures.  Regulations finalized back in 2016 are now in effect.  Read More »

TICKET TO RIDE: MUST EMPLOYERS REASONABLY ACCOMMODATE?

Suppose you have an employee who claims he is too large for a regular airline seat, so when you send him to travel on company business, he wants first-class tickets to accommodate his larger size. Can you tell the employee that he must fly on company business in standard seating? Read More »

PENNSYLVANIA’S STRICT CONSTRUCTION OF SOCIAL MEDIA POLICIES

Personnel policies are designed to inform employees of the types of conduct that are acceptable or unacceptable. They, obviously, can only give a general overview and are subject to interpretation and application by the employer on a case-by-case basis.  A recent decision arising out of a Tweet by a Vice President of Human Resources shows that such policies will be strictly construed against employers in Pennsylvania. Read More »

WEST VIRGINIA SUPREME COURT FINDS CLAIMANT’S DEATH TO BE WORK-RELATED EVEN THOUGH HIS HEAD INJURY OCCURRED OVER A YEAR PRIOR WITH NO INTERVENING TREATMENT

West Virginia Code § 23-4-10 provides that when a personal injury suffered by an employee in the course of and resulting from his or her employment causes death, and the disability is continuous from the date of injury until the date of death, the decedent’s dependents may receive benefits. The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals recently affirmed an award of these death benefits, even though the claimant’s disability was not obviously continuous from the time of his work-related injury as he was not in active treatment for any disability at the time of his death. Read More »

ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAWS STILL NOT CONSIDERED CODES OF “GENERAL CIVILITY”

California’s intermediate appellate state court recently ruled in Terris v. County of Santa Barbara that a county employee failed to demonstrate that alleged vulgar, derogatory remarks about homosexuals made by her former employer’s CEO were connected to her termination of employment.  As a result, the court upheld summary judgment in favor of the employer and against the former employee in her wrongful termination action.  Read More »

SEXUAL ORIENTATION DISCRIMINATION UNDER TITLE VII RECOGNIZED IN WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA SUIT

The area of LGBT rights in the workplace has garnered a great deal of attention in recent years as a split has grown among the courts and among federal agencies as to whether Title VII prohibits sexual orientation discrimination. Under the Obama Administration, the Department of Justice argued that Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination also included sexual orientation and gender identity.  Recently, however, the Trump Administration’s Department of Justice filed an appellate brief in the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in which it argued that Title VII does not apply to sexual orientation. Read More »