As I’m sure you’re aware from the constant barrage of political advertisements, we are less than a week away from Election Day in 2018 which is Tuesday, November 6. As an employer, what are your legal obligations to your employees with respect to time off for voting?

To regular readers of the Lancaster Law Blog, it should come as no surprise that the answer is “it depends” – in this case, primarily it depends on what state your employees are located in. In some states, Pennsylvania included, employers have no legal obligation to give employees time off to vote.

That being said, the majority of states do provide time off in order to vote with certain requirements by statute. A summary of your state’s voting laws can be found here: Workplace Fairness – State Laws on Voting Rights/Time Off To Vote. Be sure to check with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction to confirm the impact of voting laws on you and your business.

Just because there is no legal obligation to give time off doesn’t preclude voluntary employer accommodations for voting. Employers may permit time off, flexible work schedules such as allowing extra time over lunch, arriving late or leaving early in order to accommodate voting. For example, Russell, Krafft & Gruber permits flexible work hours on Election Day in order to allow our employees to vote. Also, several of our attorneys volunteer their time at the polls.

In order to check your voter registration status in Pennsylvania, check out Pennsylvania Voter Services’ Voter Registration Status tool.

If you’re registered to vote, find your polling location and the hours you’ll be able to vote here: www.gettothepolls.com.

Matt Landis is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from Widener University Commonwealth School of Law and works regularly with  employers and employees.

If you’re thinking about starting a business in Pennsylvania, an important part of the financial side of your business plan is to evaluate the impact of taxes on your new business. Your lawyer and your accountant are key members of your business team that can help you evaluate what type of entity to form, how that entity should be taxed, and the taxes applicable to your business.

Part three of this series discusses taxes associated with ownership of real estate and employment taxes. Part one discussed sales and use taxes and others that may apply based on the nature of the goods you sell or the services you provide. Part two discussed taxes that may apply depending on the way your business is organized.

This post is not intended to be a substitute for legal or tax advice from your lawyer or accountant – you should talk to them in order to obtain advice to address your specific situation. Need a lawyer or an accountant? We might be able to help you with that! Continue Reading Pennsylvania Business Taxes – Property and Employment Taxes

With all the uproar about Facebook’s use of our data and businesses bracing to deal with the EU’s GDPR, it is easy to forget there is no general obligation to protect your personal information. The Third Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision last week in Enslin v. Coca-Cola, et al. is the latest reminder of that fact.

Shane Enslin is a former employee of Coca-Cola. As part of his employment, he submitted, as we all do, personal information including his social security number. Coca-Cola discovered that one of its IT staffers was stealing company laptops and taking them home for his own use or giving them to others. Among the devices stolen were machines used by human resources employees that contained sensitive personal information, like Enslin’s social security number. After the devices were stolen, Enslin was the victim of identity theft. Continue Reading Third Circuit Avoids Ruling on a Duty to Protect Employees’ Personal Information

This post is part of our ongoing series exploring the impact of technology on legal issues. For an introduction to the series and a collection of the posts in the series, check out this post.

The hiring process is a key component of operating a successful business and employers do their best to properly vet prospective employees. Many employers conduct searches online through search engines and scour social media profiles as a part of that process, but there are significant legal risks if that process is not conducted with caution. Here is an overview of a few of the potential issues an employer could face with seeking out information online:

Discrimination Claims

Searching social media profiles can reveal all kind of information about an individual, including sensitive information which could identify that person as a member of a protected class. In Pennsylvania, protected classes include race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex (including pregnancy), age, physical or mental disability, use of a guide or support animal, having an association with an individual with a handicap or disability, familial status, education, sexual orientation, veteran/military status and genetic information.

Think about how much of the above information you could learn as a result of a quick review of someone’s Facebook profile. If an employer decides not to hire a prospective employee based on learning some of the above information, the applicant could bring a discrimination claim.

In order to avoid liability for these claims, consider the value of conducting a social media search in the first place. Is there significant job-related information that can be gained from conducting such a search? Employers should carefully document all decisions made in the hiring process and use the same screening process for all applicants.

If you decide that social media searches are useful for identifying job-related characteristics, then consider having one person or a small group conduct the search, and instruct them to filter out all information that is not job-related and pass that on to those with input on the hiring process in order to avoid decision-making based on protected criteria. Continue Reading Use Caution When Using Social Media Searches in the Hiring Process

The Today show announced this week that Matt Lauer has been fired after nearly 24 years on the show following an allegation made by a colleague of “inappropriate sexual behavior.”  I won’t bother linking to any of the news stories as you’ve probably already seen quite a few on this subject.  What made this story more shocking was that Lauer’s termination came less than 48 hours after the allegation was made.  This swift reaction demonstrates how attitudes in the public arena regarding workplace misconduct are beginning to shift.  But power can be exploited at all levels, which is why it’s imperative that every business owner, large or small, is aware of the laws and their responsibility to maintain a workplace that is free of sexual harassment.  An Associated Press article posted on Lancaster Online this morning discusses how Failing to address harassment allegations can cost employers.

This blog is the first in a series focusing on sexual harassment and misconduct in the workplace.  Follow up posts will look at what’s important from the employer’s view, the employee’s and that of the accused.  As we become more comfortable having open discussion about workplace conduct, employers and employees need to learn more about this problem.   A key starting point for this discussion is the understanding of what constitutes sexual harassment. Continue Reading Employers and Employees: Do You Understand the Law and Sexual Harassment?

I’ve been eagerly anticipating new developments on the federal overtime rules since last year, and after almost a year of inactivity, it appears there may be a revised rule on the way.

Here’s the background: early last year, the Department of Labor announced a revision to the federal overtime requirements which would expand workers’ eligibility to receive overtime pay, as further discussed in this post: New Federal Rule Increases Employee Eligibility for Overtime Pay. But then in November of 2016, a federal judge in Texas issued an injunction preventing the new rule from taking effect as scheduled in December 2016.

The latest development is that the Department of Labor has requested public comment on the proposed overtime rule, which suggests that the rule will be further revised sometime in the near future. If you’re interested in submitting a public comment for consideration, comments can be submitted online at http://www.regulations.gov or by mail addressed to Melissa Smith, Director of the Division of Regulations, Legislation, and Interpretation, Wage and Hour Division, U.S. Department of Labor, Room S-3502, 200 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20210. Continue Reading Employment Law Update: Is a New Overtime Rule on Its Way?

Imagine this scenario: you’re excited about your new job with a large payroll processing company, and as a part of the employment offer, you’re directed to a company website that contains the terms of a stock award program. You quickly skim through it, check the box indicating that you’ve read and accept the terms, and click submit. As you skimmed through it though, you missed that the terms included a non-solicitation clause that restricts you from soliciting clients and prospective clients for one year after you leave the company.

Are you bound by that non-solicitation clause buried in the terms of the stock award program?    Continue Reading Employment Law Update: Court Holds Internet-Based Noncompetition Agreement Enforceable

iStock Employment  ApplicationPursuant to a recent ruling by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, employers who require employees to take drug or alcohol tests are not required to keep the results of such tests confidential pursuant to the Pennsylvania Drug and Alcohol Abuse Control Act.

On October 28, 2016, the Court issued an opinion that the Control Act only provides confidentiality of drug and alcohol tests relating to patients who take drug or alcohol tests for treatment purposes, and not to an employee, who took a drug or alcohol test for employment purposes.

The opinion is at odds with a 1999 case, Murray v. Surgical Specialties Corp., which held that the Control Act prohibited an employer from releasing employee drug tests results taken for employment purposes. Continue Reading Employment Law Update: Pennsylvania Court Rules Employee Drug Test Results Not Confidential