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How do I handle employee conflicts in my business?

As a Pennsylvania employer, planning for what could happen in the future is always a good idea to protect your business. One such plan you need is how to handle employment disputes. Situations can vary, so your approach should be based on the situation at hand. For example, fi the conflict is between two employees, it should be handled differently than conflict between you and an employee. In addition, harassment or discrimination issues should be handled differently than other employment disputes.

In most conflicts, according to the balance, you should approach employee conflict in a neutral way. You do not want to come across as favoring one person over another. Never meet with each person involved separately. Make it clear you are not going to allow yelling or fighting during the medication process. You should encourage both people to explain their side of the issue. Encourage them to calmly discuss what happened and what they would like done to resolve it.

It might be a good idea to have someone from human resources sit in on the meeting. That person would best understand the policies and other regulations that may come into play and be able to provide valuable input.

You should never avoid or ignore a conflict in your workplace. It is disruptive to everyone. Even if only two people are actively involved in the situation, it will still rub off on others and could affect productivity in the whole company. Always address the situation as soon as you become aware of it. This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

EEOC sues Time Warner, Charter for firing disabled worker

On July 6, 2017, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that they would be suing Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications. The two cable companies, which recently merged under the brand Spectrum, are being sued for firing a disabled employee.

The employee alleges that her disability was not accommodated and that she was fired after the company learned about her condition.

This case serves as a reminder that no matter how big or small your business may be, there’s always the risk of a discrimination lawsuit. These charges may emerge from the EEOC (15 or more employees) or the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (4-14 employees).

How to protect your business from charges of disability discrimination

Facing discrimination charges from either the EEOC or the PHRC can be intimidating for any business. There are things you can do to better protect yourself and your business from a discrimination lawsuit.

  • Rethink your interview questions: Employers can’t ask employees about their medical history or disabilities before making an offer. Rather than asking about someone’s physical limitations, reframe questions to ask about an applicant’s abilities to perform the essential functions of the role they’re interviewing for.
  • Provide reasonable accommodations: Employers need to provide reasonable accommodations for an employee with a disability. The exception to this rule if it would impose a significant difficulty or expense on the employer. Flexible working hours or making the workplace more accessible for wheelchairs are common accommodations you may need to make.
  • Document everything: If an employee is simply not performing the essential functions of the task, then you may ultimately find it necessary to terminate employment. Documenting an employee’s poor performance strengthens your credibility that the employee was fired due to performance, not because of a disability.

Just because your business was charged by the EEOC doesn’t automatically mean you’ll face disciplinary consequences. Taking these charges seriously and proactively dealing with them will help your business overcome these disputes.

Questions to be answered regarding unpaid internships

During the summer, it is fairly common for companies to offer internships to high school and college students. They basically serve competing interests very nicely. Students get valuable experience with a company that improves their job prospects after they graduate, and employers get an opportunity to audition prospective employees.

While some internships come with a fair wage, others are unpaid. Given state and federal employment laws, are unpaid internships legal?

The quick answer is: it depends on the circumstances. Generally speaking, unpaid internships may violate state and federal wage and hour laws if they do not satisfy certain criteria.  Essentially, these rules are in place so that employers do circumvent federal minimum wage laws by simply naming seasonal temporary employees "interns." This post will highlight a few of the factors the U.S. Department of Labor will use to determine if an unpaid internship properly follows federal law. 

Whether the experience supplements classroom - An unpaid internship must utilize or expand upon training or education previously provided in a classroom environment. This may mean that a particular class must have been completed as a prerequisite to the internship.

The intern must benefit from the job -  In the same vein, the intern usually receives some type of academic credit that will be used to satisfy graduation requirements.  

Regular employees can still work - Permanent employees must not be displaced by unpaid interns, and any interns working on a temporary basis must be supervised by an existing, permanent employee.

If you are putting together a new internship program or have accepted students into one and have questions about proper compensation, an experienced employment law attorney can advise you.

The preceding is not legal advice.

Why are employers investigated by the WHD?

As an employer, you may have all sorts of concerns which arise on a daily basis. For example, you could be worried about company growth or may be having difficulty finding the right employees. However, you may be especially stressed out if you are investigated by the Wage and Hour Division. In Pittsburgh, and in other parts of Pennsylvania, it is vital to realize some of the reasons why employers are investigated by the WHD.

According to the Department of Labor, an employer may be investigated by the Wage and Hour division because an employee filed a complaint. However, there are other factors that can lead to an employer being investigated. Sometimes, the WHD will look into businesses located in a certain location, while others may be investigated as a result of their industry. Usually, the Wage and Hour Division does not reveal why they investigated an employer.

If you have been investigated by the WHD, or if an employee has threatened that they will file a complaint and you are afraid that your business will be investigated, many things may be going through your mind. However, it is vital to try and stay calm during this situation and look for the correct course of action. Moreover, it is essential to avoid investigations altogether by making sure that the workplace is free of wage and hour violations, as well as other violations of employment law.

You should also remember that this write-up is offered for general information and does not represent an alternative to legal help.

What does defamation mean?

Understanding the intricacies of workplace etiquette in Pennsylvania can not only increase your popularity with your employees, it can also keep you out of legal trouble. If your employee has accused you of defamation, you may be confused about whether or not this is a valid claim. We at Kisner Law Firm not only work to defend your rights, we also strive to educate employers on what accusations are legitimate and which are false. Here is everything you need to know about defamation.

 

Chron.com states that actual defamation of character is defined as false information that is either published without consent or made in the form of a derogatory statement. Harm must also be intended by spreading the rumor and the information must not be true, otherwise it does not qualify.

 

Many employees believe that simply spreading rumors counts as a defamation of character, but this is not true. Rumors can be spread due to misinformation, unhealthy competition or ignorance, but if no harm is intended, this is not considered defamation. Simply damaging a reputation does not count as defamation either, especially if the rumor turns out to be true.

 

While it can be very difficult for an employee to prove that there was intended harm in a defamation case, controlling the spread of rumors can not only lead to a healthier work environment, but also less chance you will end up facing a lawsuit. You can prevent this by setting a good example and including guidelines in your employee handbook to discourage your employees from spreading any rumors. For more information, please visit our web page.

How to handle a breach of contract

Contracts are a vital part of any business negotiation, but what happens when your employee does not honor the terms set within? If you feel that you have had a contract breached in Pennsylvania, you may not know what steps to take next. We at Kisner Law Firm can help you determine if a contract was breached and what you can do about it.

 

First, it is important for you to decide whether the broken agreement is actually considered a breach of contract. WorkItDaily.com states that verbal communication is much harder to prove than written, so if you are concerned about a negotiation that was made in conversation but is not included in the employee’s contract, it will be much more difficult to prove. This is why it is so important to write everything down in the contact when you and your employee agree to the terms.

 

Next, you should attempt to reconcile the agreement with the other party. If your employee is not holding up his or her end of the deal, bring up the topic and talk about what needs to happen. Sometimes, the issue is simply a matter of not understanding the wording of the document, in which case you need to be sure that everything is clear to avoid this problem in the future.

 

In many cases, you will be able to resolve the issue with a simple conversation and will not need to seek outside help enforcing the terms of the contract. To learn more about handling contract breaches, please visit our web page.

What you should include in your employee handbook

When you are developing your employee handbook in Pennsylvnia, it can be difficult to know what guidelines need to be included and which to leave out. While many business owners are savvy when it comes to most matters concerning their company, human resources can be a confusing topic that requires additional help. We at Kisner Law Firm work to not only help you during employee discrepancies, but also in the formation of your initial rules and guidelines.

 

Inc.com states that it is important to make sure that the necessary details required by law are covered. You can search the Department of Labor’s website to be sure you have included your stance on all issues, but some of the most common topics to cover include hourly-pay, time off, sick leave, vacation pay and overtime. You can also detail your union relations and outline any policies concerning that topic.

 

Next, consider explaining the company’s discrimination and equal employment policies. This can include your stances during hiring as well as when considering promotions. Worker’s compensation policies should also be included, as well as rules regarding military leave, maternity leave and disabilities.

 

There are also several preferences that can be detailed in the handbook, including the dress code policy, cell phone usage, computer use during work time and after hours, and employee behavior policies. You can also detail the benefits that will be offered to employees and how early time off needs to be requested. To learn more about what should be included in your employee handbook, visit our web page.

What laws about age discrimination should workplaces know?

Diversity in the workplace is about more than people's educational or cultural backgrounds. It is also about the age of employees. Might a 30-year-old employee have something to offer that a 60-year-old worker doesn't? Could that elder worker be able to teach a younger employee a thing or two?

As a whole, a diverse workplace can be beneficial to a business' bottom line and to the morale of the workers employed there. Respecting diversity is also a legal matter. That respect includes abiding by anti-discrimination laws regarding employees' ages.

But what age discrimination rules do companies need to follow?

Workers who are 40 and older are the protected class in terms of age discrimination lawsuits. Various company process and policies are not allowed to routinely discriminate against older workers, even if such discrimination is not intentional.

These processes include recruitment, hiring, job assignments, benefits, promotions, job loss and compensation. A business will want to work with a human resources professional who can help ensure employment policies and processes don't negatively impact older workers. Otherwise, a company could be sued for age discrimination and have to go through that sometimes lengthy, stressful and expensive legal process. Such lawsuits can be bad for a business' reputation, as well.

If your business employs at least 20 people, you are expected to follow anti-discrimination laws. Still, just because you are accused of discriminating practices doesn't mean you have committed the alleged offenses. There are legal reasons to legally support age-based decisions in the workplace. Your employment defense attorney can evaluate a situation and help defend your best interests.

What if you need to contest a compensation claim?

Pennsylvania employers like you are entitled to contest an employee's claim to unemployment compensation. At Kisner Law Firm, we understand that challenging someone's compensation can be a delicate situation, and we work to provide you with information you can use to handle it as carefully as possible.

The first thing to know is that, generally speaking, you can contest a compensation claim for unemployment if you have reason to believe that the employee in question left the company or were fired due to misconduct. This can include harassment of other workers, poor managerial or work choices, decisions that may have reflected badly on the company or cost them money, and other similar negatives. You can also contest claims made by contract workers, as well.

The tricky part comes in when you consider the overall impact that challenging a compensation claim can have on your workplace. Challenges can be costly and may make your other employees wonder how you're using the company's budget. It can also demoralize other workers and make them feel threatened or underappreciated. This can be dangerous to the health of your working environment, as well as the productivity of your workers.

If this has piqued your interest and you want to learn more about ways you can challenge unemployment compensation claims without damaging your work's ecosystem, look no further than our web page. We'll lay out the facts in an easily digested way, and you can then use them to determine where you stand in your own personal situation.

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Pittsburgh, PA 15219
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