Legal briefs Featured

10:05am EDT July 22, 2002
May an employee seek a job transfer to another position within the company where he or she would not be subjected to prolonged and inordinate stress by co-workers as an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act?

The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals answered the question with a resounding "no" in the case of Gaul vs. Lucent Technologies Inc. In that case, the court found that this special consideration "would impose a wholly impractical obligation on...any employer," and, therefore, was unreasonable as a matter of law.

How to handle employee absences during Pennsylvania "emergency" days

A relatively new law in Pennsylvania prohibits employers from disciplining employees who are unable to get to work because of road closures resulting from a state of emergency declared by a governmental body. That law, Act 4 of 1998, was signed by Gov. Ridge on Jan. 29, 1998, and went into effect 60 days later.

Under Act 4, an employer may not terminate or otherwise discipline an employee for failing to report to work because of a road closure, in the county of the employer's place of business or in the county of the employee's residence, resulting from a declared state of emergency. The employer need not, however, pay employees who fail to report to work under these circumstances.

An employer who violates Act 4 will be required to reimburse its employees for all monetary losses resulting from any discipline. In addition, if the matter is adjudicated, the violating employer will also be liable for all attorneys' fees and court costs.

New hires mean additional Labor Department paperwork

A new federal law has created additional paperwork for businesses before new employees can start their first day on the job.

Businesses now must notify the state Department of Labor and Industry of every new person they hire, or rehire, within 20 days of employment. This new requirement went into effect Jan. 1, 1998, as a means to implement the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunities Reconciliation Act of 1996. The law requires each state to maintain a directory of all new hires for the purpose of enhancing child-support enforcement.

Companies must include the employee's name, address and Social Security number, as well as the employer's name and telephone number, on a form supplied by the Department of Labor or in an electronic form. The information can be attached to the W-4 form that companies send the state Labor Department.

Companies that don't follow the rule face a warning for their first omission and a $25 fine for each subsequent oversight. Companies found to be in collusion with an employee to withhold the information face $500 fines.

Law Briefs is compiled by attorneys of Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC, a national law firm based in Pittsburgh.