On Wednesday, April 15, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, in conjunction with the state’s Department of Health, announced an Order requiring businesses to implement new safety measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The Order details a litany of new “social distancing, mitigation, and cleaning protocols” that businesses must observe with respect to both employees and customers. Effective immediately, the Order applies to “life-sustaining businesses” authorized to maintain operations during the crisis under a prior order issued in March, including grocery stores and pharmacies. The Governor has directed a number of state agencies to enforce the new requirements, including the Department of Labor & Industry, the Department of Health, and the Pennsylvania State Police.
Continue Reading Employers Should Act Now in Response to New Order from the Pennsylvania Department of Health

Q. What should my company be doing to prepare for the spread of the coronavirus?

A. With the number of coronavirus cases topping 90,000 worldwide, resulting in more than 3,000 deaths across 65 countries, it is only a matter of time before the disease has some impact on normal business operations. However, as the virus

Q: One of our employees has been exhibiting strange, erratic behavior at work. Can we require the employee to submit to a mental health examination?

A: Possibly. The ADA prohibits employers from requiring their workers to undergo medical exams unless the exam is “shown to be job-related and consistent with business necessity.”  However, an employer may require an employee to undergo a mental health examination if the employee’s behavior raises questions about the employee’s ability to perform essential job-related functions or raises a safety concern.
Continue Reading Employer May Require Employee to Undergo Mental Fitness for Duty Exam if Employee Exhibits Concerning Behavior

Q.  Do you have any tips on how to ensure that our company holiday party does not lead to a new year liability?

A.  As the year comes to a close, many employers often celebrate with a holiday party as a way to thank employees for their contributions. The holiday party is meant to build comradery with co-workers, and provides an opportunity for all employees, management and non-management, to “let their hair down”.  A festive occasion however, can turn into a legal nightmare if employers fail to set expectations.  Everyone has heard stories of an employee (or two) having too much to drink at the holiday party and making an inappropriate joke, getting “touchy” with a co-worker, or getting into a car accident.  By following a few simple rules, employers can attempt to prevent such legal disasters.  Below are some suggestions to help ensure that your holiday party does not end up as the focus of a lawsuit.
Continue Reading How to Celebrate the Holidays Without Ending Up in Court: Tips for Hosting a Corporate Holiday Party

Q.  Are there any issues I should be concerned about with regard to the Zika virus and upcoming flu season?

A.  Media attention about the Zika virus seems to have lessened now that temperatures in the Northeast have cooled.  If your business requires employee travel to Zika-infected areas, however, there are several issues for you

Q.  My office likes to celebrate Halloween. With all the talk about “creepy clowns,” should I be worried that our celebration will get out of hand?

A.     Creepy clowns are making national headlines as clown sightings spread throughout the country and on social media. Whether the clown prank turns more sinister remains to be seen. In the meantime, however, ‘tis the season of goblins and ghouls, and now is a good time to remind employees of some do’s and don’ts to maintain professional decorum while celebrating the Halloween holiday:
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Q.  We have several employees with tattoos on their necks and forearms. Can we require them to cover up?

A. Many employers have in place employee dress codes, in an effort to maintain a certain brand image, comply with health standards, and foster professionalism. As tattoos, body piercings and other forms of body art are trending in today’s culture, some employers have struggled with whether such displays are in keeping with the company’s image.  To what extent can an employer place rules on an employee’s appearance at work without violating anti-discrimination laws?
Continue Reading Tolerating Tattoos in the Workplace

Q.  The world feels like a scary place these days. In light of current events, what are my obligations with respect to providing a safe workplace for employees.

A.  You are not alone in asking this important question. The sad and horrific string of mass shootings — from Sandy Hook to San Bernadino to Orlando to Dallas to Baton Rouge — is causing many employers to take a hard look at their workplace violence policies and programs.
Continue Reading Safety in the Workplace