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Pittsburgh Employment Law Blog

School District Violated Constitutional Rights of Gay Employees By Denying Domestic Partner Benefits, Court Rules

Gateway School District violated the U.S. Constitution and civil rights laws when it denied the same retirement benefits to its gay employees that it provided to its heterosexual workers a Pennsylvania judge state court judge has held in a major decision.
Following trial Judge Alan Hertzberg of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County (Pa), in the case of Richard L. Seech v. Gateway School District, (GD 16-005672), held that Gateway deliberately classified its employees into two groups:

Karlo v. Pittsburgh Glass Works, LLC, Age Discrimination in Employment

In a major decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has held in Karlo v. Pittsburgh Glass Works, LLC, that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act does not permit the victim of a discriminatory policy to be told he has not been wronged because other persons aged 40 or older were preferred. In short, an employer cannot adopt policies that have a profound disparate impact on workers over age 50 or 55, so long as younger individuals within the protected class received sufficiently favorable treatment.

Health Care Workers Cannot Be Fired For Refusing Overtime

Pennsylvania health care workers cannot be discharged for declining to work mandatory overtime and if they are they may sue their employer for wrongful discharge according to a just released decision by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.

Pittsburgh Passes Paid Sick Days Ordinance

Pittsburgh United, an organization that strives to advance social and economic justice in the City of Pittsburgh by fighting for family-sustaining jobs and equitable economic development, convened a coalition of over 25 labor unions, faith, environment, women's and community organizations to work together to pass the Ordinance.

Unusual PA FMLA claim filed by a third party

A lawsuit filed in federal court claims that cancer specialist surgeon Dr. Kevin Staveley-O'Carroll was fired because he complained that center officials at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Centel mistreated his secretary after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

The case is unusual in that it could help clarify under what circumstances a third party - someone who was not seeking leave for him- or herself - can sue for an unfair retaliatory firing.

The suit, which does not identify the name of the secretary, alleges that she had requested unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, which requires employers to grant medical leave of up to 12 weeks when suffering from a medical issue.

The circumstances of the case arose when the secretary requested leave after her surgery under the FMLA to recuperate. The secretary believed she could work until the surgery. However, she had difficulty concentrating before the leave began. Dr. Staveley-OCarroll said that he was eager to accommodate reasonable requests such as frequent work breaks because cancer patients can have instrusive thoughts of "death and disfigurement." Surgery department leaders refused to give her such breaks, the lawsuit claims.

Engineer files discrimination suit against PA steel company

An electrical enginner employed with a Pennsylvania steel compay, ArcelorMittal Steel USA, recently filed a discrimination claim alleging that the company violated the Civil irghts Act by acting in a racially discriminatory manner.

The employee, Peters Abhulimen, of Nigerian descent, claims that he has been denied promotions and suspended without justification because of his skin color. That is in addition to an overall racist work environment, the suit claims.

Abhulimen has alleged that racist action began in 2008, just a week after he began employment with the company, and included name calling and behavior that he found threatening. 

Unusual retaliation claim filed against Pittsburgh area casino

Employees should never have to fear that they will be retaliated against for complaining about unsafe or illegal working conditions. When people are being subjected to discrimination, harassment or safety hazards in the workplace, it is important that they are able to speak up to protect their rights without the fear of being fired or blacklisted in their industry.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently reported that a woman has claimed that she was fired by Rivers Casino after complaining about harassment, and she later lost out on a job offer at another casino when it learned about the allegations she had made against Rivers.

Pregnant Pa. women continue to face workplace discrimination

As we often discuss in this Pittsburgh Employment Law Blog, although significant strides have been made in order to provide equal rights to women in the workplace, women continue to face discrimination in the workplace in the 21st century. One unfair employment obstacle that many women confront here in Pennsylvania is that of pregnancy discrimination.

Under federal law, women cannot be discriminated against on the basis of pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions. Additionally, all parents are allowed up to 12 weeks off for the birth or adoption of a child or to care for an ill child. A number of employers, however, attempt to skirt these obligations by refusing to hire pregnant women or firing pregnant employees.

Wage theft, other labor abuses alleged in 7-Eleven case

A wide range of labor abuses are being alleged against several 7-Eleven franchise owners this week after federal authorities conducted a raid on stores and homes. In what was described as a "modern-day plantation" system, the franchise owners allegedly coerced undocumented immigrants from Pakistan and the Philippines to work in their stores for far less than minimum wage for up to 100 hours each week before taking them back to "company owned" housing. 

The employers used fraudulent social security numbers to have the employees paid by the national headquarters and then forced the employees to cash the checks and hand in a majority of the earnings. The investigation involves eight states including Pennslyvania. 

Supreme Court rulings limit workers' rights

The U.S. Supreme Court issued two rulings this week that have the potential to limit the rights of workers here in Pennsylvania. The two controversial decisions will make it much more difficult for people to hold their employers responsible for discrimination and retaliation.

Both cases were close calls, with each being decided by a 5-4 majority. The dissenting Supreme Court justices were so disappointed in the rulings and the effects they will have on the workforce that they have actually called for Congress to intervene.