The ability to quickly share information with a large number of people is one of the powerful things about the Internet. But with great power comes great responsibility.

Or at least it should.

Particularly for the major tech platforms, content moderation – making sure the information being shared is accurate – is vital. But

As Pennsylvania’s stay-at-home restrictions slowly lift, many employers will be welcoming back employees temporarily laid off since March. So let’s go through the unique employment law requirements created by one of Congress’s first COVID-19 responses, the Families First First Coronovirus Response Act. (We’ll call it the “Families First Act,” for short.)

What is the Families

The past few weeks have been challenging for everyone. We know that each of our clients has been impacted in different ways. As we work to help you with the questions and concerns that arise with new developments every day, rest assured that we are still here to help. Our three physical office locations are

We have been inundated with requests by our business clients about their legal obligations when responding to COVID-19. Here are a few of the most common questions (and their answers!) that we’ve seen:

Closure of all businesses except those that are “life-sustaining”

In its earlier guidance, Pennsylvania has “strongly urged” non-essential businesses throughout the state to close for at least 14 days. But the essential vs. non-essential debate was moot before it ever really got started. Now the triggering standard is whether your business is “life-sustaining.” Governor Wolf’s office has provided a detailed breakdown, industry by industry, of what may be physically open at this point in time.

Enforcement of these measures has been taken seriously throughout the area thus far. We have already had employers in the life-sustaining categories report their employees were questioned by law enforcement on the way to work. So for now, we need to hunker down and work remotely if we are not an authorized business.

Still not sure? Any business can ask for clarification at ra-dcedcs@pa.gov. And businesses can seek waivers (although in our experience that are not generally being granted) by emailing RA-dcexemption@pa.gov.


Continue Reading Resources for Pennsylvania Businesses About COVID-19 (Updated 3/24/20)

One of the most common issues I am asked about is what a small business can do about online criticism. Here are five practical tips any business can use to help manage their online reputation.

  1. Know What is Being Said About You

To effectively manage your online reputation, you need to know what is being said about your business. Keep an eye on the platforms that matter most to you. For a professional services business like mine, that means watching platforms like LinkedIn. But for other businesses Facebook, Twitter, or Amazon might be more important. And almost every business benefits from keeping an eye on Google’s reviews.

And try to keep an eye on what is being said in the news because many online newspapers allow comments to be posted after articles. We use Google Alerts to get automatic email notifications when our firm or attorneys are mentioned online.

  1. Respond, But Remember You Cannot Argue with Crazy

It is important not to ignore online criticism. But you also cannot argue with a crazy customer. Remember that the primary purpose of responding to an online critique is not to resolve that customer’s situation (more on that below). The purpose is so the rest of the world reading the criticism can see you responded in an empathetic and respectful manner. Use some form of “we are sorry to hear you had a bad experience,” but do not use a stock response. Craft each response based upon the criticism leveled. That shows you are aware of the concern and care about it.
Continue Reading Five Practical Tips for Responding to Online Criticism

This post is part of our ongoing series translating the lawyer-gibberish of Pennsylvania lawsuits into something understandable. For the definitions of the terms in bold check out the post that launched this series. A list of the posts in the series is also at the end of this article.

Lawsuits generally end in one of three ways:

  • The case can settle out of court. We’ve already talked about settling cases in the post Let’s Get It Started. This is the most likely way a case is resolved.
  • The case can be resolved by a judge or jury at a trial. But unlike what we see in movies and TV, this is the least likely outcome. We’ll talk more about trial for the next post.
  • A “dispositive motion,” i.e. a motion that resolves the case in someone’s favor without a trial. Think of it as a motion that can “dispose” of a case.

For today’s post, let’s take a deeper dive into these dispositive motions.
Continue Reading Explaining PA Lawsuits Using Plain Language (Part VI) – As a Matter of Law

Just because your terms of service say you’re not liable, doesn’t mean you aren’t. Like the fine print at the bottom of a contract, website terms of use are a place for businesses to protect themselves. But they are not a substitute for thinking carefully about how you interact with your customers – particularly if