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Pennsylvania Employment Law Blog

Pennsylvania Attorney General questions no poach agreements

No competition clauses are not limited to employment contracts for lucrative occupations. Lately, fast food workers and franchisees have confronted contracts that limit a worker's ability to seek better employment. The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General and attorney generals from other states have sent letters to franchises seeking information and documents concerning these no-poach agreements.

According to the letters, the agreements are comprised of clauses that are often contained in fast food employment contracts or franchise agreements. These have also been referred to as employee non-competition, no solicitation, no hire or no switching clauses.

3 provisions that a severance package should include

There are few situations so stressful as facing unemployment. Whether you have been at your current job for 10 months or 10 years, it is difficult to learn that you will no longer have the position at your company. In such circumstances, your employer may offer you a severance package. Companies often do this to provide for departing employees, and more importantly, to avoid liability.

According to Becker's Hospital Review, 83 percent of medical organizations have written a severance agreement for a CEO. Whether you are in health care or another industry, if your employer offers you a severance package, there are a few things you should know—and you should be sure your package includes the following three provisions.

Tips on getting the best severance agreement

Employers may offer severance agreements to smooth the departure for terminated employees. In return for certain benefits, however, the soon-to-be former employers want important concessions. Employees can increase their bargaining power by taking certain actions to help assure a softer financial landing after a job loss.

As with other negotiations, the employer's first offer is not necessarily the best or final offer they are willing to make. Employers want to purchase protection against lawsuits and other problems and may be willing to pay more for a worker's concessions.

Severance contract may threaten safety

Fine print in severance agreements should be carefully reviewed because it may restrict important rights. According to employment law experts, Tesla deterred terminated employees from revealing safety concerns with the public in its severance agreements.

The automaker proposed an agreement to its 3,000 workers that were let go in June. According to the agreement, employees would agree that they were afforded the opportunity to bring up any safety concerns or complaints or whistleblower activities during their employment. Additionally, the workers had to agree that Tesla satisfactorily addressed these issues if they were raised.

Supreme Court rules on employment contracts

Employers have used employment contracts to limit employee rights. In a close 5-4 decision last month, the U.S. Supreme Court approved one of these restrictions by ruling that class action waivers in these contacts are valid and enforceable. In other words, employees may waive their right to participate in class action lawsuits against their employers and must take their work-related disputes to arbitration as individuals.

The Court ruled on a workers' attempt to file a class action lawsuit against an employer for alleged violations of the federal minimum wage law. The employer sought dismissal of this lawsuit because it had it employees agree in their contracts to waive their ability to file collective court actions or class action lawsuits. Under their contracts, they had to resolve any disputes individually in out-of-court arbitration.

Negotiating a good severance package

Labor laws usually do not require any severance package or severance agreements for employees. Those who are terminated for cause or at-will or low-level employees have less opportunities for receiving severance. There are several recommendations for negotiating a better agreement, according to the AARP.

Employees in legally-protected categories, such as those over age 40 or people with a disability, need to carefully review the fine print of any agreement they sign. These workers may be offered a package in return for waiving any right to file a lawsuit if they lose their job. Contracts may also put employees at a disadvantage by containing non-compete clauses in exchange for pay and benefits.

What should be included in medical employment contracts

Applicants for employment at a hospital, health system or medical group should do research before negotiating employment contracts for medical professionals. These agreements should contain basic but important terms.

Compensation should be comparable to other health care professionals with similar skills and experience. A base salary may be guaranteed as long as possible without adjustment. For physicians just emerging from training, this period may be one year. Doctors joining a health system may be able to negotiate a longer period of three to five years.

How do I get unemployment compensation in Pennsylvania?

Losing a job is a stressful event and can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Immediate concerns can create anxiety, such as how to make up for lost income in the time you need to find a new job. 

Unemployment compensation is a benefit that is available to workers in Pennsylvania who have lost their job. However, the process of applying for this compensation and accessing it is not always straightforward and sometimes requires the assistance of a skilled employment law attorney. Here is some basic information to help you understand how you can get unemployment compensation in Pennsylvania:

Representing professionals in negotiating severance agreements

A previous post on this blog talked about how, in the professional world, severance agreements are becoming more and more common when a professional employee, like a doctor, business executive, accountant or other professional, leaves his or her place of employment.

As that post stated, an employee in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, area who signs a severance agreement may be giving up important rights, including the right to pursue certain legal claims against his or her employer, in exchange for compensation to which he or she might not otherwise be entitled.

Overview of severance agreements

No salaried employee in the greater Harrisburg area or, for that matter, in any other part of Pennsylvania ever wants to be called in to their office's human resources department to discuss impending "cuts" or, more specifically, the involuntary termination of their employment. Unfortunately, though, in the modern economy, losing one's job is more and more a reality that most workers will deal with at least once.

Getting the news one is being terminated will inevitably cause various thoughts emotions to run through the employee's or executive's head, such as what they are going to do to find another job and how they are going to support themselves and their families in the interim. As such, whether or not to sign the severance agreement their employer offers them may be the last question on their minds.