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Pennsylvania Employment Law Blog

Black and Latinos face significant hiring discrimination

A recent analysis of multiple studies across 25 years indicates what some Black and Latino people in Pennsylvania might already know: Job opportunities can be hard to find for minorities. Researchers from multiple universities reviewed 28 studies dating as far back as 1989. Studies about callbacks from job applications consistently produced a bias in favored of white people. Black job applicants heard back from potential employers at a rate 36 percent lower than white applicants. Latinos fared a little better with a callback rate only 24 percent lower than whites.

These figures emerged from data received from 55,842 applications to 26,326 jobs. The researchers accounted for variations in the studies in regards to gender, labor market conditions, job types, study method and education. Although education might enable some people to get better jobs, blacks and Latinos with higher education still faced obstacles to building personal wealth. Minorities tended to need school loans more often than whites, which left them with debts. Blacks with college educations assisted their families with money more often than whites, who remain more likely to receive financial support from their parents.

How to deal with workers in the DACA program

Pennsylvania employers may know about DACA and the protection that it offers to roughly 800,000 younger undocumented immigrants in the United States. However, that program may end if Congress does nothing to extend or otherwise alter the program. Employers who have workers covered by DACA may be tempted to terminate them or otherwise ask about their immigration status. However, this may be seen as illegal discrimination.

If a company is currently employing someone who is protected by DACA, the company must terminate that worker after his or her work permit expires. By some estimates, that could result in 30,000 people in the DACA program losing their jobs each month over the next two years. This is according to the Center for American Progress. Of those who are in the DACA program, about 700,000 of them are currently working.

FMLA, FLSA still observed during natural disasters

Pennsylvania employers whose workplaces are in areas where a natural disaster happens are still bound by the laws of the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act. Employers should keep this mind when they are making disaster preparedness plans and should have clear policies in place.

In general, an employee cannot work for an employer without pay. During a natural disaster, laws about overtime pay remain in place. There might be problems if an employee is unable to use an employer's timekeeping system or if records are destroyed.

Court upholds employee's claim of retaliation

When an employee in Pennsylvania files a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the employer has a legal obligation not to retaliate against the employee. A federal trial judge overseeing a case that involved a worker at a nuclear power station has agreed that the person suffered from retaliation after the employer informed other workers about the EEOC investigation.

The attorney for the company had informed 150 employees in writing about the investigators' request to contact other employees. She believed this action to be appropriate because she did not want to release contact information without the employees knowing about it. The company's letter included information about the employee who claimed that his medical condition prohibited him from working near radiation.

Discrimination reported by women who worked at Google

Some women in Pennsylvania who work in technical careers may have followed the story of the Google employee who was fired for releasing a document saying that women inherently had less ability to work in tech. Several women who used to work for Google have since come forward to report facing discrimination at the company. They also say that they felt their long-term prospects for a career there were poor. Racism and ageism were issues along with sexism.

One black woman, who said she always felt as though she did not belong, reported being asked for identification frequently on the Google campuses when her white coworkers were not. She said her efforts to prioritize diversity were discouraged. An Asian woman cited as one instance of discrimination a man telling her she must have easily gotten her job because of Asians' math abilities.

What to know about the gender pay gap

Equal Pay Day for the typical woman employee in Pennsylvania is April 4. What this means is that it takes a woman until that date to make the same amount that a man made in the previous year. For a woman of color, that doesn't take place until July 31. In some cases, women of all colors are paid less than men who have less experience and training.

A pay gap between men and women may emerge as little as one year after graduating from college. The gap exists even when accounting for the profession as well as how many hours each person works. In fact, black women make only 89 percent of what black men make despite the fact that black women tend to have higher levels of education.

Workers report age discrimination in tech industry

Older Pennsylvania tech workers may face discrimination at work. The AARP conducted a survey in 2013 that found two-thirds of workers in that industry said they had experienced or seen age discrimination on the job. One recruitment platform found that tech workers 45 and older face limited opportunities in the workplace.

A class action lawsuit against Google for age discrimination has been joined by 269 people. The plaintiffs in the suit are software engineers over 40 who say they tried to get hired at Google and faced age discrimination. One of the plaintiffs said that a recruiter had said she had to include dates on her resume that showed her age and that she was not hired for a position as an engineer as a result.

Hostile work environment may arise from single incident

A Pennsylvania federal appeals court ruled that a single extreme discriminatory act, even if it happens in isolation, may be enough to create a hostile work environment that violates workers' rights. Two men who worked as general laborers filed a lawsuit after a supervisor used a racial slur in discussing the men's work. They complained about the incident to another supervisor and were fired after two weeks without being given an explanation. They were then rehired but let go for what the company claimed was a lack of work.

A trial court dismissed the men's allegations that they had been harassed and retaliated against based on protections offered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, on July 14, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit reversed the decision.

Understanding the 80/20 rule for tipped workers

In Pennsylvania and elsewhere in the U.S., waiters and waitresses get most of their pay through tips given by patrons. However, the restaurant industry has faced an increasing number of lawsuits due to the 80/20 rule, which states that side work cannot occupy more than 20 percent of an employee's workweek without the employee being entitled to minimum wage.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, an employer must pay a tipped worker minimum wage if they perform one or more extra jobs that do not generate tips. For example, certain duties, such as washing and setting tables, making coffee or occasionally washing dishes are considered to be part of the tip-related duties. If the employee is taking on other jobs, such as shift manager, the employee must be paid at least minimum wage.

Disabilities and the workplace

People with disabilities in Pennsylvania and the rest of the country may find it difficult to land a job. While the Americans with Disabilities Act requires qualified employees who have disabilities to be provided reasonable accommodations, it is contingent on the condition that it does not impose a significant hardship for the employer.

Unemployment statistics regarding people with disabilities have changed little since the ADA was enacted in 1990. The legislation was intended to improve employment prospects and statistics for disabled persons. It has been suggested that instead of relying on their own interpretations, employers should confer with employees as to what type of accommodations are appropriate.