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Posts tagged "Employment Law"

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 someone of defamation, you may be confused about whether or not this is a valid claim. 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. 

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. 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.

You may want to 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.  Make sure you document the conversation in writing as a follow up.

Early action is key to prevent a full on breach and additional issues.  Before you take any action you should consult your attorney, many contracts provide time limits for notice and cure of a perceived breach and if you don't follow your contract you may limit your future remedies.

If you need assistance understanding an employment contract or drafting a business agreement contact our attorneys at Kisner Law Firm.

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. 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 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.

What commonly causes contract breach accusations?

Employers in Pennsylvania are often put into difficult situations because of their position of power. Unhappy employees will always look to target someone for compensation, which is how some accusations of contract breaches end up getting thrown around.

It's important for employers to understand the terms of their own contracts inside and out in order to defend themselves against accusations. The American Bar Association says that all questions about contracts can be broken down and answered by looking at a few main components. These are:

  • Whether or not a contract was formed, and what the terms are
  • If the contract promises could be enforced and if those enforcements had defenses
  • If a duty of performance arose
  • Whether or not a contract was breached, and what the remedy is

Many claims of contract breaches stem from a fundamental misunderstanding of what was promised in the initial contract. The employee may feel entitled to things that the employer never intended to offer to them, and this can cause a great deal of friction, especially if the employee feels cheated.

Other common causes of contract breach accusations include a perceived lack of proper enforcement of the promises made within the contract. Employees may also feel cheated out of certain promises despite not meeting goals set in the contract either because these performance terms weren't made clear to them, or because of intentional misreading.

In any case, a contract breach accusation can be very serious. Employers who are being pinned with such accusations should swiftly deal with them to avoid damaging their reputation in the business world.

Do nursing mothers get special protections under the FLSA?

As an employer, you've probably gotten quite the education on the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which sets out all sorts of wage and hour requirements. However, some of the finer points might have been lost on you. After all, you've got a business to run and 20 balls up in the air at any given time. So you may not be aware of some of the laws governing nursing mothers in the workplace.

The FLSA has been around for a while, but it was updated in this particular area by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare), so let's take a look at some of the salient points. 

  • You are required to give a nursing mother a break that allows enough time to express milk. You don't have to provide compensation for this break time, but you must give the mother as much break time as she requires to express milk. This holds true for one year after the child is born.
  • You must provide a designated space for the nursing mother to express milk. It cannot be the bathroom and it needs to have a level or privacy that prevents coworkers from seeing or barging in on the mother.

Some states have stricter laws regarding nursing mothers. Some don't set a limit at one year, while others cover more employees than required by the FLSA. If you're an employer with questions about staying compliant with laws like this, it may be in your best interest to get the help of an attorney.

Where to start with a start-up

When you are starting up a business in Pennsylvania, you will likely have several details to pay attention to. Your company’s location, logo, business model and goals will all need to be decided, as will the financial aspects, suppliers and marketers. While all of this can be overwhelming, there are certain areas that require more attention than others, and one of those is the legal side of running a business. We at Kisner Law Firm are here to help you with every step of the legal processes in start-up businesses.


One of the top five tips offered by is to make sure that, above all, nothing about your business is contrary to the law. The fastest way to derail all your planning, time and effort is to take a wrong step and find yourself with penalties and denied applications. You will likely rely heavily on your local government’s approval and support in order to be given the chance to run a business, so it is best to be sure you are following their rules. If officials notice anything illegal about your company, they may revoke your business license and invoke expensive penalties.


The process of obtaining approval can be lengthy, which can frustrate and curtail other business plans. Experts recommend doing what you can before you are compliant. If it is possible, run certain aspects of the business while you wait on licenses for others.


Running a business successfully also means operating legally. For more information on how to do this, visit our web page.

Small business contracts: What you should know

Small businesses come with a considerable amount of stress, financial planning, developing and emotions. You, as well as many other small business owners, have poured your heart and soul over the development of your small business. As a result of all of this work, you will most likely want to put some safeguards in place that will protect your little treasure and keep it prosperous for years to come. At Kisner Law Firm, LLC, we know that there are some contracts that are crucial when protecting your business.

Partnership agreements are a must when you are going into business with someone else, even if it is a close friend or family member. These contracts spell out who contributes what to the company when it comes to labor, cash, property, time and customers. Furthermore, the contract determines who is to be paid what. Is there a salary involved or does the money go back into the investment? Also, it is critical to name who has the decision-making power in the company. When these terms are spelled out, it minimizes the room for conflict later on down the road.

Non-disclosure or confidentiality agreements are also important, as they keep people from sharing the trade secrets of your business to potential competition. Once signed, people cannot disclose any information regarding your marketing plan, finances, business plan, client list of the future plans for your company.

Other contracts, such as independent contractor contracts or non-compete agreements may also be essential to your company. To learn more about protecting your small business, visit our page on employment contracts. 

Your employee claimed a contract breach; what now?

It's a question that you would surely prefer not to ask. But unfortunately, as an employer in Pittsburgh, it's a reality of the work environment. At some point, you might have to deal with an employee that has claimed you have breached a contract, and you will need to have a plan in place to handle these accusations.

The American Bar Association states that there are six basic ways to analyze a contract, which can then determine whether or not a breach actually occured. This starts all the way at the basics by determining if a contract even existed in the first place and, if so, if there was an attached duty of performance. The terms of the contract should also be known and examined. Defenses to the enforcement of the contract will also be looked at, and at that point, it will finally be determined if a breach actually occured. Only after passing the other questions and examinations will a potential settlement for the contract breach be discussed. Even so, false claims of contract breaches are often discovered quickly.

However, you should also note that while you may not intend items in an employee handbook to be taken as promises or contracts, it can be potentially interpreted that way in court. There are often cases in which an employee reads something in the handbook and feels as though a contract has been breached should you fail to meet the expectations set there.

Handling a situation in which a contract breach has been claimed might be tricky. This is why it's important to tackle this scenario properly, as it cuts down on confusion and the chance of your words being misinterpreted.

Office Location

Kisner Law Firm, LLC
Gulf Tower
707 Grant St., Suite 2646
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
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Phone: 412-880-5605
Fax: 412-235-6704

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