The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently issued a decision that may significantly change the ability of an employer to modify or suspend Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation benefits based on a Labor Market Survey. In Phoenixville Hospital v. WCAB (Shoap), the court ruled that evidence that a claimant applied for, but was ultimately not hired for, positions identified in the Labor Market Survey is allowable to show the positions are “not available” under Section 306 (b)(2) of the Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Act (the Act). Thus, the claimant’s application for the jobs and the availability of the positions is now an issue that must be addressed.
Articles About Pennsylvania Labor And Employment Law.
Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Corbett has announced that he will sign the “benevolent gesture” bill after the legislation received unanimous support from lawmakers. The law permits health care providers, including hospitals, long-term care facilities and physicians, to offer a “benevolent gesture” (i.e., an apology) to patients, their family members or representatives without worrying that the gesture might be used against them in future litigation. The bill is widely touted as a method to encourage open communication between patients and physicians, as well as a way to reduce the number of medical malpractice actions.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has signed into law an ordinance that significantly enhances the rights and protections afforded the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and makes Philadelphia the first city in the United States to provide tax incentives for businesses to offer LGBT-inclusive health care.
On April 25, 2013, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in Bowman v. Sunoco, Inc. that a waiver of a right to sue third parties for injuries covered by workers’ compensation — signed as a condition of employment — bars a negligence lawsuit against the employer’s customers.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter has vetoed legislation that would require local employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees.
Overruling more than 30 years of precedent, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that the “voluntary layoff” provision of the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Law permits employees to receive unemployment compensation benefits when they accept an early retirement incentive offered as part of a reduction in force. Diehl v. Unemployment Compensation Bd. of Rev., No. 51 MAP 2011 (Pa. Dec. 28, 2012). Earlier case law held that employees who received early retirement incentives in a reduction in force were not eligible to receive unemployment compensation. The Supreme Court found that those cases were unsupported by the unemployment compensation law’s plain language.
In a pair of recent decisions, the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania held that the “fluctuating workweek” method of calculating overtime is not lawful under Pennsylvania law when the employer pays an overtime premium of one-half of the employee’s regular hourly rate, in addition to the employee’s salary. Foster v. Kraft Foods Global, Inc., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121282 (W.D. Pa. Aug. 27, 2012); Cerutti v. Frito Lay, Inc., 777 F. Supp. 2d 920 (W.D. Pa. 2011). While these cases do not necessarily represent the last word on the subject (indeed, the Foster case is still pending in district court), employers who utilize the fluctuating workweek method in Pennsylvania should take note of these developments.
Some employers in Philadelphia must provide their employees with paid sick leave. Pursuant to an amendment to Chapter 17-1300 of the Philadelphia Code, titled “Philadelphia 21st Century Minimum Wage and Benefits Standard,” certain entities providing services to, or receiving financial aid from, the City of Philadelphia must provide up to 56 hours, or seven days, of paid sick leave to all full-time, non-temporary, non-seasonal covered employees beginning July 1, 2012. In certain circumstances, a covered employer can seek partial or total waiver of the paid sick leave requirement from the Philadelphia Office of Labor Standards. A waiver may be granted, for example, if a covered employer contends that it is unable to pay all or part of the paid sick leave or if the paid sick leave is waived by a bona fide collective bargaining agreement.
In Best Medical International, Inc. v. Spellman, a federal court in Pennsylvania determinedâ€”in a case of first impressionâ€”that attorneys’ fees may be awarded to the prevailing defending party under the Pennsylvania Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“PUTSA”) when it has demonstrated:
When may attorneysâ€™ fees be imposed on a plaintiff for prosecuting a claim for misappropriation of trade secrets in bad faith under the Pennsylvania Uniform Trade Secrets Act (PUTSA)? In a matter of first impression, in Best Medical International v. Spellman [pdf], a Pennsylvania district court held that bad faith justifies attorneysâ€™ fees when two criteria are met:
As of July 1, 2012, certain employers in Philadelphia will have to provide their employees with paid sick leave. A recently enacted ordinance amends Chapter 17-300 of the Philadelphia Code, titled “Philadelphia 21st Century Minimum Wage and Benefits Standard.”
Certain Philadelphia employers will be required to provide full-time employees with paid sick leave beginning July 1, 2012. The City Council voted 15-2 in support of the measure and Mayor Michael Nutter did not veto it. The new Ordinance, an amendment to Chapter 17-1300 of the Philadelphia Code, is entitled, â€œPhiladelphia 21st Century Minimum Wage and Benefits Standardâ€. Mayor Nutter previously vetoed a broader paid sick leave bill, which would have applied to all Philadelphia employers with more than five employees.
Effective June 17, 2011, Philadelphiaâ€™s new Fair Criminal Record Screening Standards Ordinance generally will prohibit Philadelphia employers from asking job applicants questions related to criminal history prior to or during the first interview. Similar to restrictions applicable to Massachusetts and Hawaii employers, the â€œban the boxâ€ law will prohibit Philadelphia employers from obtaining criminal background information on an initial employment application. The Ordinance applies to employers that employ 10 or more persons within the City of Philadelphia.