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Employment Lawyer Network:

Susan K. Lessack (Editor)

Pepper Hamilton LLP
Pennsylvania Employment Law

(610) 640-7806

Click for Full Bio

Susan K. Lessack is a partner in the Berwyn and Philadelphia offices of Pepper Hamilton LLP. She concentrates her practice in employment counseling and employment litigation. Ms. Lessack’s experience includes counseling employers on matters related to compliance with federal and state labor and employment laws, counseling regarding employee discipline and terminations, conducting investigations of employee conduct, including harassment, training employers on their obligations under employment laws and litigation avoidance, and developing employment policies. She defends employers in litigation of employment discrimination claims, wrongful discharge claims, and claims under federal and state employment-related statutes, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law.

Investigate suspected FMLA intermittent leave abuse

Dishonest employees often abuse their right to take intermittent FMLA leave. Fortunately, courts grant employers broad leeway to investigate suspicious absences.

Layoffs: Check job-cut list for discrimination liability

Any time you must lay off employees, carefully review the list of people who will lose their jobs. Reason: Reductions-in-force are magnets for discrimination lawsuits.

Jury finds discrimination, but awards no damages

It always pays to document poor performance in detail and contemporaneously. If you ultimately need to terminate the employee, you will have the backup you need to justify your decision, even if the employee claims that you somehow discriminated against him.

Beware discipline for work not done during FMLA leave

When employees take FMLA leave, sometimes their employers just let the work pile up, to be completed when the employee returns. That can be dangerous if the employee can’t catch up and is punished.

Never manipulate pay or hours to avoid OT

Tempted to play loose with the overtime rules to save money on labor? Bad idea. You will attract the Department of Labor’s attention.

Retaliation by top executive or HR? Prepare to pay up

Congratulations! A court just said you were not liable for discrimination! Now about that retaliation claim ….

Document ADA requests to prove good faith

The ADA requires a disabled employee and her employer to have an interactive conversation to determine whether it’s possible to accommodate the disability and, if so, how. If the employee doesn’t participate in the interactive process, she won’t be able to sue successfully over a denied accommodation. That’s why it’s essential to document every interaction once you suspect an employee might be disabled.

Take local predictable scheduling laws seriously

These days, it’s harder than ever to schedule hourly workers. But before the pandemic hit, scores of cities and towns adopted predictable scheduling laws aimed at letting hourly workers plan their lives around regular schedules. Ignoring those rules may mean big payouts for affected workers.

Small employer? FLSA probably still applies

Most private-sector employers must comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act’s wage-and-hour rules, regardless of size. The law applies to employers that do a reasonable amount of business while engaged in interstate commerce.

Ask attorney: Does state law supersede FLSA?

The Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk, that time employees spend in a security-check line after work doesn’t count as time worked under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, did not create a foolproof safe harbor for employers. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court just ruled that state wage-and-hour law did require Integrity Staffing to pay for screening time.