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July 2013 Archives

Workplace Bullies Pose Threat to Employers

When people hear the word "bullying" they may think of schools or playgrounds, but in truth, workplace bullying has become increasingly pervasive, and can create significant legal ramifications for employers. In fact, a 2012 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 51% of organizations reported incidents of workplace bullying.  Workplace bullying is generally defined as repeated, health-harming mistreatment of one or more persons (the targets) by one or more perpetrators in the form of verbal abuse, offensive conduct, or work interference. 

Partial Deafness May Not Qualify Under Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act was amended in 2008 in part as a response to narrow judicial interpretation of the word "disabilities." The amended version, the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (hereinafter "ADAAA"), expands the definition of "disability," construing a broad new range of coverage for groups previously denied protection under the Act including but not limited to those suffering from: epilepsy, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, major depression and bipolar disorder. Although the ADAAA 's enactment overturned United States Supreme Court rulings with respect to the definition of "disability," a recent Opinion from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Mengel v. Reading Eagle Company, No. 11-6151, (E.D.  Pa.  March 29, 2013) demonstrates that the federal judiciary is undeterred by the ADAAA's expansive definition of "disability" as they continue to place their own limitations on the ADAAA through judicial interpretation.

Pennsylvania First in Nation to Announce Unemployment Compensation Amnesty

Pennsylvania has broken new ground among states by announcing a program to give full or partial amnesty in an effort to recoup money that is owed to the state's Unemployment Compensation fund.  States have offered amnesty to individuals and corporations for back taxes but never before has this same effort been undertaken to attempt to collect improperly collected unemployment benefits.  Pennsylvania is hoping to collect $600 million through the program.  This opportunity is available both to individuals who improperly received benefits as well as businesses who failed to pay their share of unemployment benefits for employees.  The department divides the 130,000 individuals who collectively owe $356 million in overpaid unemployment claims into two classes: (1) fault, and (2) non-fault claimants. Fault claimants are those who knowingly gave false information on applications for jobless benefits. Non-fault claimants are ones who mistakenly received extra money from the fund. Under the amnesty programs, those who lied on their applications will have to pay back the full amount of benefits they wrongfully received but only half of the interest and penalties. The non-fault claimaints will only have to pay back half of what they owe. Once the amnesty period expires, those who fail to pay back the money owed will have liens placed against their assets along with other possible penalties. To take advantage of the Program, interested individuals or businesses should contact the Amnesty Call Center at 855-284-8545.

PA House of Reps. Passes Bill Assisting Unemployment Claimants

Anyone who has ever had to file for unemployment benefits knows the painstaking process that can be involved in filing an application, waiting on a determination, and finally getting payment. Perhaps in a move to win over voters, The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has passed legislation aimed at preventing delays in paying benefits to unemployed workers. House Bill 26 would supplement federal funding for the administration of unemployment compensation by transferring funds from currently existing revenue to assist with processing claims, according to Rep. Bill Keller, D-Philadelphia, who authored the legislation. The money would come from existing employee tax contributions as mandated by law and be paid over four years, with $40 million transferred in the first year. Keller said his legislation is directed at widespread reports of problems encountered by claimants when seeking help with unemployment compensation. He said residents have experienced repeated busy signals when calling service centers, long wait times on the phone, and delays in claims processing. The bill will now move to the Senate for consideration.

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