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So far Murphy Law has created 221 blog entries.
21 02, 2020

You Talk to Investigators About Workplace Harassment. Then You’re Fired.

By |2020-02-21T03:19:28+00:00February 21st, 2020|Workplace Discrimination|0 Comments

It’s Unlawful, but It Happens—All Too Often Harassment and discrimination are unlawful in workplaces throughout the United States. However, for these laws to be enforced, somebody has to report the violation and participate in an investigation. Under the law, you’re supposed to be able to do both these things without reprisals. However, retaliation is common in American workplaces. In fact, it’s the most frequent charge brought against employers, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. What’s protected under the law? Under federal law, there are certain protected activities that you’re supposed to be able to do without retaliation. These include: Complaining, to the EEOC or anyone else, about harassment or discrimination in the workplace—even if your claim turns out not to be true, as long as you made it in good faith. Cooperating in an EEOC investigation, or serving as a witness during litigation or internal investigations. Complaining about safety violations, fraud, or other unlawful activity in the workplace. Opposing discrimination in the workplace, reporting on it, or participating in an investigation. State laws often go further in protecting employees’ rights to perform certain activities without retaliation. In Pennsylvania, the courts are inclined to protect employees who: Refuse to break [...]

15 02, 2020

Wrongful Termination in an At-Will State (Like Pennsylvania)

By |2020-02-15T18:29:23+00:00February 15th, 2020|At-Will Employment, Wrongful Termination & Retaliation|0 Comments

There Are Still Times When It’s Unlawful to Fire You Pennsylvania is an “at-will” state—meaning employers can fire their workers at any time, for any reason or no particular reason at all. In practice, this can lead to situations that are deeply unfair to the fired employee—but are not unlawful. However, there are still some situations where you may have a case in court for wrongful termination. Here are some examples of what wrongful termination looks like in an at-will state like Pennsylvania. Firing You for Discriminatory Reasons Under the law, your employer can fire you simply because they don’t like you. But they can’t fire you for discriminatory reasons—such as religion, race, skin color, gender, disability, or country of origin. Some other examples of discriminatory reasons for firing you include: Your pregnancy status Your age (if you’re aged 40 or older) Your citizenship status Your genetic information You have a GED instead of a high school diploma Firing You Because You Stood up for Your Rights Your employer isn’t allowed to fire you for speaking up for yourself—for example, by reporting sexual harassment or blowing the whistle on safety violations. This holds true even if your accusation turns out [...]

8 02, 2020

More People Just Became Eligible for Overtime Pay. Did You?

By |2020-02-08T00:48:18+00:00February 8th, 2020|Wage Theft & Unpaid Wages|0 Comments

The Minimum Salary for Exempt Employees Went up as of January 1, 2020 In September 2019, the Department of Labor announced it was raising the minimum salary level for exempt employees—making more people non-exempt, and thus eligible for FLSA protections: specifically, overtime pay. The old threshold was $455 a week or $23,660 per year. The new one is $684 per week or $35,568 per year. And it took effect as of January 1, 2020. What does it mean to be “exempt”? Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employees who work more than 40 hours a week must receive overtime pay. However, this rule doesn’t apply to all employees. “Non-exempt” employees are not exempt from FLSA protections—so they’re entitled to overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours a week. “Exempt” employees are exempt from FLSA protections. Employers aren’t required to pay these workers overtime, no matter how much they work. In addition to earning more than the cutoff threshold, those categorized as exempt are supposed to be executive, professional, and administrative workers, or those working under commission-based contracts. However, employers often find ways to categorize most of their white-collar employees as exempt so they don’t have to pay [...]

17 01, 2020

3 Types of Age Discrimination That Are Depressingly Common

By |2020-01-17T23:51:54+00:00January 17th, 2020|Age Discrimination, Hostile Work Environment, Workplace Discrimination|0 Comments

And How Employers Get Away With It According to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and other state and federal laws, it’s illegal for employers to discriminate against employees or job applicants because of their age. However, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), approximately 60% of surveyed older workers claimed to have experienced or witnessed age discrimination in the workplace—and 90% of those respondents said it was a common occurrence. Even though age discrimination is illegal, employers have been taking increasingly creative measures to avoid complying with the law. Here are three different forms age discrimination can take. Refusing to Call It “Firing” Your employer probably won’t come out and tell you that they’re firing you because of your age. But employers do this all the time. One way they get away with it is by calling your firing a “job elimination.” They’re not actually firing you—just eliminating your job title. But a few weeks later, they’ve reinstated the job under a different title and filled the position with a younger worker. Layoffs can also serve as a tactic for employers to let older workers go. The law requires employers to release lists of employees who were both [...]

11 01, 2020

When You Take FMLA Leave—And Your Employer Uses It Against You

By |2020-01-11T02:48:40+00:00January 11th, 2020|Family and Medical Leave Act Claims, Workplace Discrimination, Wrongful Termination & Retaliation|0 Comments

Know Your Rights—and How to Protect Them Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you’re entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to fulfill caregiving obligations or handle a medical issue. At the end of your leave, you must be able to return to your previous job at your previous level of pay. But some employers resist giving employees the leave they’re entitled to under the FMLA—and may even use it against them. Some examples of that include: Not promoting you because you took FMLA leave Firing you for taking legally protected leave Denying you benefits while you’re on FMLA leave Citing your use of FMLA leave as part of disciplinary action or a negative review When Is It Legal to Fire Someone on FMLA Leave? One of the more obvious violations of the FMLA is when an employer fires an employee while they’re on leave—or just after they return. However, there are situations where it’s legal to do that. Legally, an employer can’t fire you because you’re on FMLA leave. The reason has to be unrelated. Of course, most employers won’t admit that they’re firing you for taking leave you’re entitled to. Some scenarios where it [...]

3 01, 2020

Fired While on Light Duty?

By |2020-01-03T16:14:06+00:00January 3rd, 2020|Wrongful Termination & Retaliation|0 Comments

It’s Surprisingly Common—and Not Always Illegal What happens if you get injured on the job? In Pennsylvania, your employer may offer you a “light duty” position that allows you to keep your pay and benefits while exempting you from physical requirements that could lead to further injury. When it comes to light duty, both employer and employee are supposed to operate in good faith. While employers are usually not required to offer light duty, if they do, they should offer a legitimate job you can physically do. Employers sometimes don’t act in good faith when assigning light duty. We’ve handled cases where employees on light duty were given physically strenuous jobs, or were subject to demeaning treatment. We’ve also seen cases where employees were terminated while on light duty, clearly for pretextual reasons. When Can Your Employer Fire You While on Light Duty? If an employer can demonstrate they terminated an employee for a reason unrelated to a light duty request —such as poor performance, bad attendance, or breaking work rules—the termination could be lawful. However, sometimes employers manufacture justifications for termination simply because they do not want to accommodate a light duty request. Some signs you were a victim [...]

21 12, 2019

Six Examples of Pregnancy Discrimination in the Workplace

By |2019-12-21T03:34:49+00:00December 21st, 2019|Pregnancy Discrimination|0 Comments

Some of These Might Surprise You According to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, employers are forbidden from discriminating against pregnant employees when it comes to any aspect of their jobs—including hiring and firing, pay, job duties, training, health insurance, and more. Even so, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that the number of pregnancy discrimination claims increased 50% between 1997 and 2011.  And it’s likely this type of discrimination is under-reported. One thing many people don’t realize is that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act doesn’t just protect pregnant women. It’s also intended to prevent discrimination based on medical conditions caused by pregnancy or childbirth. In addition, under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), some pregnancy-related health conditions may qualify as disabilities. If you are afflicted with one of these, your employer may be required to offer reasonable accommodations for you under the ADA.  Here are some examples of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. 1. Refusing to hire you because you’re pregnant—or plan to become pregnant Have you ever had a prospective employer ask you about your childbearing plans during an interview? It may be against the law to ask that question. Employers are generally not allowed to make hiring decisions based [...]

13 12, 2019

Wage Claim Retaliation: When You’re Fired for Reporting Unpaid Wages

By |2019-12-13T02:58:26+00:00December 13th, 2019|Wage Theft & Unpaid Wages, Wrongful Termination & Retaliation|0 Comments

It’s More Common Than You’d Think The Fair Labor Standards Act dictates that non-exempt workers are entitled to make minimum wage, plus overtime for more than 40 hours worked in a week. There are clear definitions of what constitutes “work”—and how employers should calculate each worker’s pay. Even so, wage violations are more common than they should be. In 2019 alone, the Department of Labor collected a whopping $322 million in owed wages for underpaid workers. A few examples of wage violations include: Paying you less overtime than you’re owedNot paying overtime at allTaking illegal deductions out of your paycheckPaying you less than the minimum wageStealing your tips If your employer hasn’t been paying you what you’re owed, you’re entitled to file a report. There are several ways to do this, including: Filing an internal complaint with your companyFiling an administrative wage claim with the US Department of LaborBringing a lawsuit against your employer for FLSA violations You have the right to do any of these things, without suffering negative consequences to your career. But what happens when you act according to your rights—and get punished by your employer as a result? Retaliation for Reporting Wage Violations Retaliation is the [...]

7 12, 2019

Can Your Boss Make You Work Off the Clock—Without Paying You?

By |2020-01-06T23:11:43+00:00December 7th, 2019|Wage Theft & Unpaid Wages|0 Comments

If You’re Non-Exempt, It’s Probably Illegal Your boss keeps you late on the job—or asks you to work during your lunch break. You agree, expecting a nice bump in your paycheck. But when you get paid, it’s the same amount as always. What’s going on? If you’re a non-exempt employee, it may be something illegal. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that non-exempt employees be paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours per week. If you’re being asked to work “off the clock”—or outside your regular workday—without being appropriately compensated, that may be against FLSA rules. There are a few nuances to consider, though. Exempt vs. Non-Exempt Employees The FLSA overtime pay rules only apply to non-exempt employees, who are usually paid on an hourly basis. Exempt employees—meaning those exempt from FLSA overtime rules—are salaried employees who get paid a set amount per year, regardless of the number of hours worked. When you’re exempt, there is no “off the clock” for FLSA purposes. Exempt employees are supposed to be only executive, administrative, and professional workers in industries where commission-based contracts are the norm—as well as certain farm workers. But in practice, employers often find ways to categorize [...]

16 11, 2019

What Retaliation for Reporting Sexual Harassment Looks Like

By |2019-11-16T04:42:16+00:00November 16th, 2019|Sexual Harassment, Wrongful Termination & Retaliation|0 Comments

And What to Do If It Happens to You One of your co-workers makes inappropriate comments about your appearance at work. The comments are frequent enough to create a hostile work environment. So you follow the policy your employer has laid out, and report that person to Human Resources. The next week, you’re out of a job. This is a very clear example of retaliation—and it’s all too common. According to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, of all the federal-sector allegations of workplace discrimination, retaliation was the most common allegation—and the most frequent finding. Employers do this kind of thing all the time. Sometimes, as in the example above, retaliation is obvious. But sometimes it’s more subtle. Here are a few scenarios that may be retaliation, if you experience them after reporting sexual harassment. Your schedule suddenly changes Workers facing retaliation may find their schedules rearranged so they have to work on a requested day off, or their work schedule now conflicts with something important—such as classes or picking up a child from school. You’re being demoted If you find yourself demoted to a lower-ranking position, moved to a worse shift, or given different or less desirable duties after [...]