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Keystone Employment Law Blog

Conflict over a variety of complex issues now seems to consume the nation's daily attention, and it is certainly not unusual for debates over these kinds of issues to spill over into the workplace. But what is perhaps different now from any time before is the ever-increasing usage of social media platforms by employees to express their opinions outside of the workplace.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently reiterated prior Pennsylvania holdings that a restrictive covenant executed even after the first day of employment could still be enforceable without additional consideration, but clarified that this is only so if the essential terms of the covenant are agreed upon prior to commencement of employment. While we don’t necessarily advise that this is the best practice to follow, you’ll want to read our Employee Defection and Trade Secrets Practice Group’s new blog post summarizing the case and explaining the circumstances that might allow for enforcement of such a covenant. The blog post also provides some best practices to follow in recognition of the fact that business pressures often dictate a fast-paced hiring process that could lead to signatures on restrictive covenants taking a back seat to other considerations. You can read the post by clicking here.

Governor Wolf announced on Friday that 13 additional Pennsylvania counties will move to the yellow phase of Pennsylvania’s staggered reopening plan, continuing a slow and steady strategy to permit businesses to get back to work. The counties include Allegheny, Armstrong, Bedford, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Fulton, Greene, Indiana, Somerset, Washington and Westmoreland.

Late last week, three Philadelphia city councilmembers introduced a bill seeking to permanently amend the city’s mandatory paid sick leave law, “Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces.” As proposed, the bill would provide a significant increase in benefits to a much larger group of workers when faced with a public health emergency.

A federal appeals court just resurrected the salary history ban that will now prevent Philadelphia employers from asking job applicants about how much they are paid or setting new salaries based on pay history. Thanks to February 6th 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, employers in Philadelphia must immediately alter their hiring practices and cease the practice of asking questions about compensation history on applications, in interviews, and at any stage during the hiring practice. You must also ensure that you do not use this forbidden information when setting new salary levels. What do employers need to know about today’s ruling and how best to come into compliance?

Can a former employer’s alleged misconduct defeat a request for injunctive relief against former employees when those departing workers take confidential information and clients to another employer? A federal appeals court recently addressed this question in Scherer Design Group, LLC v. Ahead Engineering LLC and decided not to apply the “unclean hands” doctrine against the employer in a trade secrets case, clearing the way for the injunction. While not a suggested approach that you should take without consulting with your attorney, the case does present an interesting situation that all employers should familiarize themselves with.

On December 6, 2018, Philadelphia City Council approved the Fair Workweek Ordinance by a vote of 14-3. Following its passage by City Council, Mayor Kenney reiterated his support and his intention to sign the Ordinance into law. Even if Mayor Kenney vetoed the Ordinance, City Council could override the veto with 12 votes- which it currently has. In sum, it appears that Philadelphia will have a Fair Workweek for 130,000 employees in the retail, food service, and hospitality industries.

In our October 3rd entry, we addressed the pending Fair Workweek Ordinance, currently being considered by Philadelphia City Council. The proposed Ordinance aims to provide predictable work schedules for Philadelphia’s 130,000 employees in the retail, food service, and hospitality industries and to help reduce the 26% poverty level in Philadelphia.    

In June 2018, Philadelphia City Councilmember Helen Gym introduced legislation designed to improve predictability in scheduled shifts for employees in the retail, hospitality, and food services sector – the second largest sector of the Philadelphia economy. The proposed “Fair Workweek” ordinance requires employers to provide advance notice of work schedules; pay additional compensation for changes to an employee’s scheduled shift; permit employees to take 11 hours off between shifts; and offer work to existing employees before hiring new employees. Employers would also be prohibited from retaliating against an employee for invoking any of these rights. The Fair Workweek Ordinance would apply to large businesses in the retail, hospitality, and food services sector that employ 250+ people and have at least 20 locations worldwide.

For the first time, a court used a civil rights law to hold a school district financially accountable in a case of student bullying.

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