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employee rights Archives

DOL reverts to pre-Obama era view of independent contractors

Pennsylvania workers who are unclear of their should note that the federal Department of Labor under the Trump administration has rescinded interpretations published during the Obama years. These statements of guidance were meant to steer legal rulings on whether a person was an independent contractor as opposed to an employee. With the department's withdrawal of these guidelines, courts may continue to apply traditional views to these type of cases.

U.S. Supreme Court to rule on pension plan case

Pennsylvania employees may be interested to learn that a case involving church-affiliated health care institutions and pension plans was being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. The case involved whether or not church-affiliated pension plans that were not established or maintained by the church should be exempt from Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 regulations.

Stopping deliberate job misclassification

Pennsylvania workers should be aware of being misclassified by their employers. This is a prevalent and harmful act that is done deliberately by employers so that they can reduce costs and shift responsibility. The United States Department of Labor has obtained two judgments against employers who falsely claimed that their workers are independent contractors instead of employees.

Retaliation against employees can be illegal

Pennsylvania workers who believe that their employers have violated their rights sometimes file complaints. When they do, some employers retaliate against them and fire, demote or punish them in another way. Retaliation against employees for asserting their rights is illegal under federal law.

Overtime law changes slated to become effective

Some white collar employees in Pennsylvania may be celebrating the fact that an important Department of Labor overtime change is ready to go into effect. Salaried workers earning at least $23,660 per year were previously considered exempt from being entitled to overtime pay for working in excess of 40 hours in a week of work. However, that threshold will be approximately twice as much as the change takes effect December 1, 2016.

Litigation financing could help workers in wage disputes

Litigation finance is a practice in which investors fund a lawsuit. If the case is successful, the investors are entitled to receive a certain amount of the award. If the defendants or plaintiffs lose their cases, they do not repay the funding. According to some legal experts, this practice may be used more often in future employment and labor cases in Pennsylvania and across the U.S.

EEOC guidance may help Pennsylvania workers

In 1998, 24 percent of claims handled by the EEOC were related to workplace retaliation. In 2015, that grew to 45 percent, which made it the most common type of complaint brought to the EEOC. Retaliation is defined as an employer taking a materially adverse action against an employee after engaging in a protected activity. However, those terms may be applied in a relatively broad manner.

Understanding the basics of the FLSA

The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to pay non-exempt workers at least the federal hourly minimum wage for their time worked in a workweek. Additionally, they must pay overtime when employees work more than 40 hours. To keep track of all hours employees work, Pennsylvania employers must understand what counts as hours worked.

Harassment in the workplace remains a persistent problem

Employers in Pennsylvania and throughout the country could do more to combat harassment in the workplace according to a report released in June 2016 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The report was compiled by a task force made up of legal experts, academics and members of groups that advocate on behalf of workers and employers. It concluded that the training programs put into place to address workplace harassment often focus more on avoiding liability than actually tackling the problem.