Category: Employment Law


Former Employee Sues Behavioral Health Company

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Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Protect Employees Who Have Been Wrongfully Terminated.

Allegations of Wrongful Termination Based on Her Age and Requests for Reasonable Accommodations

A Pennsylvania woman filed a lawsuit in the Western District of Pennsylvania against a behavioral health company alleging discrimination and unlawful termination. According to the complaint, the plaintiff, 61, worked as an outpatient treatment reporting screener for 21 years. She was diagnosed with anxiety and depression after her mother’s death, and requested reasonable medical accommodations at that time, including a two to three month medical leave. Upon her return on a part-time basis, she claims she became the target of harassment, receiving criticism for the quality and speed of her work and an increased workload.

The plaintiff submitted reasonable accommodation paperwork from her doctor requesting a lesser workload. Her request was denied without her employer providing any legitimate reason why. Shortly thereafter, she was given a written warning requiring her to perform an “unreasonable” amount of job duties for a part-time position, including a quota of 20 to 25 inquiries per day, returning all phone calls and covering for absent co-workers. She met with her supervisor and HR about the situation, and again requested accommodation to temporarily decrease her workload, but her request was again denied.

After the meeting with her supervisor and HR, the plaintiff received a follow-up email, stating she was now required to complete 20 to 25 complex inquiries or up to 60 less complex inquiries per day. She emailed both parties about the higher quota, but received no response, court documents state. The plaintiff informed her employer that her doctor had approved her to return to work full-time. However, before she was allowed to return to work full-time, she was terminated for allegedly failing to meet performance expectations. In addition to disability discrimination and retaliation, the plaintiff claims she was terminated because of her advanced age.

The lawsuit claims her employer violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. The plaintiff is seeking the defendant to promulgate and adhere to a policy prohibiting discrimination and retaliation against employees; provide back pay, reinstatement and benefits; punitive and/or liquidated damages; other equitable and legal relief as the Court deems appropriate; and attorney’s fees.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Protect Employees Who Have Been Wrongfully Terminated

If you believe that you were wrongfully terminated from your job, the Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. can assist you with these matters. To schedule an initial consultation, call us at 215-574-0600 or contact us online. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

 

What Are Reasonable Accommodations for Disabled Employees?

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Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Assist Clients Entitled to Reasonable Accommodations in the Workplace.

Employers are required to make reasonable accommodations to allow employees with disabilities the ability to perform their job duties successfully. A disability is legally defined as having a physical or mental impairment, a record of a physical or mental impairment, or regarded as having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more bodily functions or major life activities.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides disabled persons federal civil rights protection from discrimination, and it provides equal opportunity for employment and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities in businesses with 15 or more employees.

Reasonable accommodations are changes to the job description, application process, or workplace for disabled individuals to apply for a position and the ability to perform essential job duties. Some examples of reasonable accommodations include:

  • Changes to the make the workplace more accessible, such as installing ramps and elevators and providing accessible bathroom facilities for employees who use a wheelchair or walker.
  • Altering or adding necessary equipment to allow a disabled employee to successfully perform their job duties, such as computer programs that convert text to speech for the blind and videophone communication for the deaf.
  • Modifications to the work schedule for the disabled and employees with chronic medical conditions to accommodate for medical appointments and the flexibility to complete work at alternate times or locations.
  • Reassigning a disabled employee to a more suitable open position, if qualified, should the employee’s disability prevent them from performing the duties in their current job.
  • Adjusting policies to allow service animals in the workplace.
  • Providing handicapped parking or providing a reserved parking space closer to the building for an employee unable to walk long distances.

Requesting Reasonable Accommodations

If you require an accommodation that is not already provided for your job, you must request one and you will need to disclose the nature of your disability. Making an ADA request for accommodation does not have to be in writing unless you prefer to do so, but you must inform your employer that you require an accommodation due to the medical condition.

Written requests are typically submitted to both your supervisor and the company’s Human Resources (HR) department and should include that you are requesting a reasonable accommodation under the ADA.

Following your request, your employer may choose to grant it or work together with you to find a suitable alternative. While employers are required to meet the needs of their employees, however, they may not be required to provide an employee’s first choice of accommodation. Keep in mind that employers may request medical documentation from your provider in cases of disabilities with no physical presentation.

Employers are not required to make reasonable accommodations if doing so would impose an undue hardship to the business’s operation and is determined on a case-by-case basis. Undue hardship may be applicable if the accommodation would require significant difficulty or expense in relation to the business size, available resources, and the type of business operation.

Unfair Accommodations

There are also certain items that are not considered reasonable accommodations that employers are not required to implement, such as:

  • Eliminate a primary responsibility of the job.
  • Lower standards of production that apply to all employees.
  • Provide personal items, such as hearing aids, eyeglasses, and the like.
  • Excuse violations of conduct rules that apply to all employees, such as violence or threats of violence, theft, or destruction of property, and is permitted to discipline a disabled employee the same as any other employee.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Assist Clients Entitled to Reasonable Accommodations in the Workplace

If you believe your employer has wrongfully denied your requests for a reasonable accommodation to allow you to successfully complete your job responsibilities, our Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. can help. Call us today at 215-574-0600 or contact us online for an initial consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we proudly serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

What Are Reasonable Accommodations for Disabled Employees?

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Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Assist Clients Entitled to Reasonable Accommodations in the Workplace.

Employers are required to make reasonable accommodations to allow employees with disabilities the ability to perform their job duties successfully. A disability is legally defined as having a physical or mental impairment, a record of a physical or mental impairment, or regarded as having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more bodily functions or major life activities.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides disabled persons federal civil rights protection from discrimination, and it provides equal opportunity for employment and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities in businesses with 15 or more employees.

Reasonable accommodations are changes to the job description, application process, or workplace for disabled individuals to apply for a position and the ability to perform essential job duties. Some examples of reasonable accommodations include:

  • Changes to the make the workplace more accessible, such as installing ramps and elevators and providing accessible bathroom facilities for employees who use a wheelchair or walker.
  • Altering or adding necessary equipment to allow a disabled employee to successfully perform their job duties, such as computer programs that convert text to speech for the blind and videophone communication for the deaf.
  • Modifications to the work schedule for the disabled and employees with chronic medical conditions to accommodate for medical appointments and the flexibility to complete work at alternate times or locations.
  • Reassigning a disabled employee to a more suitable open position, if qualified, should the employee’s disability prevent them from performing the duties in their current job.
  • Adjusting policies to allow service animals in the workplace.
  • Providing handicapped parking or providing a reserved parking space closer to the building for an employee unable to walk long distances.

Requesting Reasonable Accommodations

If you require an accommodation that is not already provided for your job, you must request one and you will need to disclose the nature of your disability. Making an ADA request for accommodation does not have to be in writing unless you prefer to do so, but you must inform your employer that you require an accommodation due to the medical condition.

Written requests are typically submitted to both your supervisor and the company’s Human Resources (HR) department and should include that you are requesting a reasonable accommodation under the ADA.

Following your request, your employer may choose to grant it or work together with you to find a suitable alternative. While employers are required to meet the needs of their employees, however, they may not be required to provide an employee’s first choice of accommodation. Keep in mind that employers may request medical documentation from your provider in cases of disabilities with no physical presentation.

Employers are not required to make reasonable accommodations if doing so would impose an undue hardship to the business’s operation and is determined on a case-by-case basis. Undue hardship may be applicable if the accommodation would require significant difficulty or expense in relation to the business size, available resources, and the type of business operation.

Unfair Accommodations

There are also certain items that are not considered reasonable accommodations that employers are not required to implement, such as:

  • Eliminate a primary responsibility of the job.
  • Lower standards of production that apply to all employees.
  • Provide personal items, such as hearing aids, eyeglasses, and the like.
  • Excuse violations of conduct rules that apply to all employees, such as violence or threats of violence, theft, or destruction of property, and is permitted to discipline a disabled employee the same as any other employee.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Assist Clients Entitled to Reasonable Accommodations in the Workplace

If you believe your employer has wrongfully denied your requests for a reasonable accommodation to allow you to successfully complete your job responsibilities, our Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. can help. Call us today at 215-574-0600 or contact us online for an initial consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we proudly serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Walmart Must Face Bias Claim by Worker Regularly Absent Post-Injury

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Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Assist Clients Who Were Wrongfully Terminated.

A U.S. appeals court has revived claims that Walmart Inc. unlawfully fired a “people greeter” at a Maine store who was absent or left work early on more than 20 occasions to attend doctor appointments or because of complications caused by medication for a work-related injury.

A unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the First Circuit said it was unclear whether her attendance lapses were excusable under Walmart policy because they stemmed from a pelvic injury she sustained while working. The Panel said a Maine district court judge should not have granted summary judgment to the retail giant. The Court revived her claim of disability discrimination and her allegation that Walmart unlawfully retaliated against her for complaining that she was being harassed for missing work for medical reasons.

Walmart hired the plaintiff as a cashier at a Windham, Maine store in 2013, and the following year she injured her pelvis while working, according to court filings. She took a leave of absence after the injury and another about 18 months later. Around the time of her second leave, she filed a lawsuit in Maine federal court accusing Walmart of failing to accommodate her disability. The case was ultimately dismissed.

While the lawsuit was pending, in 2016, the plaintiff returned to work. But the plaintiff was absent or missed at least two hours of a shift 12 times in a two-month period, according to court filings. After meeting with the store manager, where she was warned about not properly notifying Walmart of her absences, the plaintiff complained to a human resources official that she felt she was being harassed. The plaintiff was subsequently late or absent several more times, and was fired about two months after the meeting, according to case filings.

The plaintiff sued Walmart in 2019, accusing the company of disability discrimination and retaliation in violation of state law. The U.S. District Court granted summary judgment to Walmart last year, finding that attendance was an essential function of her role as a people greeter and that she was not qualified for the job.

The plaintiff appealed, arguing that many of her absences were authorized under Walmart’s attendance policy because they were related to an on-the-job injury, and she had given advance notice to her managers.

The 1st Circuit panel said it was unclear whether her absences should have been excused, and whether Walmart’s policy applied to illnesses caused by medications prescribed to treat a work-related injury, reviving the lawsuit. “It is impossible to unequivocally conclude that Wal-Mart internally established that in fact the store’s allowed number of authorized absences had been exceeded,” wrote U.S. District Judge Gustavo Gelpi of the District of Puerto Rico, who sat by designation.

The Court also said the window of time between the harassment complaint and the firing was small enough to allow her to pursue her retaliation claim under Maine law.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Assist Clients Who Were Wrongfully Terminated.

If you believe you were wrongfully terminated after requesting reasonable accommodations to allow you to successfully complete your job responsibilities, our Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. can help. Call us today at 215-574-0600 or contact us online for an initial consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we proudly serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

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What Are My Rights as a Worker on Thanksgiving?

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Black Friday sales have become a part of Thanksgiving, and companies trying to get an edge up on their competition are opening earlier each year. For some workers, Black Friday is cutting their holiday shorter and shorter.

With holiday gatherings and festivities, many workers may be tempted to simply refuse to work on Thanksgiving if they get scheduled. However, despite the day being a designated federal holiday, employees who refuse to work when scheduled may suffer consequences, including termination.

Can I Receive Holiday Pay?

In Pennsylvania and throughout the United States, workers are not guaranteed the holiday off. Additionally, most government offices are closed, and employees are paid their regular pay for the day off. However, private employers are only required to pay non-exempt workers their regular rate. Some workers will not receive holiday pay. However, overtime rules still apply.

Am I Entitled to Overtime Pay?

While some public employers pay a holiday premium, often 150 percent of their regular wages, private employers are not obligated. Pennsylvania does not require employers to pay overtime for hours worked in excess of eight per day or on weekends or holidays. The reason for this is that there is no federal or state law requiring private employers to close for a holiday, even if it is a federal holiday. There is also no law that requires an employer to pay you for the holiday if the employer is closed.

However, in Pennsylvania, non-exempt employees are required to receive overtime pay equal to 1.5 times their regular hourly pay for any hours worked over 40 in a week. Since the holiday season often means the employee is working more than 40 hours in a week, a shift at Thanksgiving may qualify for overtime pay.

There is a bonus to the Pennsylvania overtime law: overtime pay can still be collected up to three years from the date the pay was earned. Additionally, workers are entitled to an additional 25 percent of the unpaid overtime wages if they are paid more than 30 days past the due date. Federal law provides the worker with up to two years to collect overtime pay and three years if the employer was intentionally violating overtime law.

Workers Exempt From Overtime Laws

There are employees who are exempt from receiving overtime pay for work beyond 40 hours. According to Pennsylvania state law, exempt executive employees are those who are primarily managing the organization, a department, or regularly directing two or more employees. However, the exempt employee may also be an administrative worker in the executive office. Other jobs that are not subject to the overtime pay laws include salespeople, mechanics in the automobile, truck, or aircraft industries, taxicab drivers, movie theater employees, among others.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. Help Employees Get the Pay They Deserve

As an employee, you should know your rights if you must work on Thanksgiving. If you are not getting your entitled pay, our Philadelphia employment lawyers at Sidkoff, Pincus & Green P.C. can help. Call us at 215-574-0600 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

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Can Employees Express Political Views at Work?

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employees political views

Perhaps nothing can divide the office faster than bringing up political views. Political discussion can affect productivity, and it can also create a hostile work environment. Employees should be aware of common misconceptions regarding political views in the workplace.

A lot of employees may believe that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of speech at work. The First Amendment applies to government action, it does not limit the ability of private employers to regulate freedom of speech at work. It does not provide any constitutional right for workers to express political views at work. Therefore, there is no constitutionally protected right of free speech at work. Federal law does not protect workers from political discrimination. However, some states do protect employees from different types of political discrimination.

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers cannot discriminate against employees because of their race, color, national origin, religion, and sex. A political discussion could be tied into one of these protected classes. For example, if a female employee participated in a women’s rights movement and is fired, but other employees can participate in movements, rallies, and protests, she may be able to prove she is being discriminated against because of her sex.

Many employers will create policies limiting the discussion of political views due to issues that could arise. Politics can involve discussions on race, sexual orientation, religion, and a litany of other issues that can polarize the workplace. Heated political discussions could result in discrimination claims, wrongful termination, or even retaliation.

Are Employees Allowed to Campaign in the Workplace?

An employer must maintain a workspace that is free of discrimination and harassment, and they can ban activities unrelated to work. An employer can prohibit employees from promoting political campaigns. This includes:

  • Soliciting coworkers or customers to support political causes.
  • Using the employer’s computer to email and engage in political discussions.
  • Wearing buttons, shirts, or other items of clothing with political messages.

It is important to know that employees who violate an employer’s policy may be lawfully disciplined or discharged.

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