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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.

College complaint alleges bizarre pattern of retaliation

The former public safety director at Harrisburg Area Community College has filed a complaint alleging he suffered retaliation after he engaged in protected whistle-blowing activity. The director is still employed at the college, but has been stripped of his duties, computer and vehicle, and now sits in an empty office with nothing to do.

Cancer doc says he was fired for FMLA advocacy

The Pennsylvania State University Medical Center is being sued by a cancer surgeon who alleges he was fired in retaliation for defending the FMLA rights of his secretary—who was fighting cancer.

Document every discharge just in case there’s a lawsuit


You might assume that someone won’t sue if they’ve been accused of sexual harassment by several employees and cited for poor performance. You could be wrong. That’s why you should document every discharge decision as if you expect a lawsuit.

SS disability doesn’t automatically qualify employee for company disability

An employee who files for Social Security disability benefits based on the inability to work doesn’t automatically qualify for her company’s ERISA disability benefit plan when her federal benefits come through. She can be disabled under federal law but still capable of working as defined in the company insurance plan.

Feel free to place reasonable background check conditions on job offers

Good news for employers that have had to revoke conditional employment offers: Employers that discover disqualifying information after an offer has been tendered but before the candidate starts work are free to revoke the offer. That won’t result in a big jury award.

Protected activity doesn’t excuse insubordination

Some workers believe they are golden as soon as they complain about supposedly illegal employer actions. You can and should punish any be­havior you would have punished if the employee had never complained. That includes terminating an em­­ployee for post-complaint insubordination.

Warn bosses: Don’t single out caregivers


Being a boss is hard enough, but it’s especially difficult when un­­expected absences disrupt production schedules. Unfortunately, it’s a fact of managerial life. That’s why you should remind supervisors that they must not take out their frustrations by retaliating against employees who miss work for legitimate reasons—such as having to care for a sick child.

Can we ban moonlighting?

Q. We have an employee who recently started working a second job. We currently don’t have a rule against moonlighting, but now he frequently comes in late and tired. It’s really affecting his work. Are we legally entitled to ban second jobs?

Is body odor a real disability?

Q. Several employees have requested that we talk to another employee who, frankly, smells bad. I know she has medical problems. Can we ask her to do something about the odor or would that be discrimination based on disability?

FMLA: How can we be sure employee must care for her grandchild?

Q. One of our employees just took emergency custody of her grandchild after her son and daughter-in-law were arrested for child abuse. She now wants to take FMLA leave to get the child settled in and have family counseling. What kind of proof must we accept that she really has legal custody?