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Keystone Employment Law Blog

The Pittsburgh City Council and Allegheny County Council recently passed new bills referred to as “CROWN” Acts, prohibiting discrimination based on hairstyle as to employment, housing, and educational opportunities. CROWN stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.” These bills, one City-wide and one County-wide, are substantially identical. The County-wide law became effective October 22 and the City-wide law followed the next day. What do Pittsburgh-area employers need to know about these new laws?

Philadelphia Mayor Kenney recently signed an amendment to the city’s mandatory paid sick leave law – “Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces” (PHFWO). This September 17 amendment provides a significant increase in benefits to a larger group of covered workers when faced with a public health emergency. More specifically, it requires new public health emergency leave (PHEL) for employees, gig workers, and others who are not eligible for leave under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Philadelphia’s PHEL requirement took immediate effect and is set to expire on December 31, 2020. What do Philadelphia employers need to know about this new obligation? 

A federal court judge in Pennsylvania just ruled that the governor’s COVID-19 orders shutting down businesses and restricting gatherings are unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable. By striking them down, the judge set up a conflict between the court system and the governor’s office – leaving employers caught in the middle. Although this current conflict will not have much of an impact on businesses at the current time, it needs to be resolved before any possible “second wave” of COVID-19 cases hits in the coming months and leads to further government orders impacting the business community. What do Keystone State employers need to know about the September 14 court decision?

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.

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