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Caution: The EEOC Warns that New Technology May Result in Illegal Discrimination Against Applicants or Employees

By: Benjamin R. Patchen, Esquire


Published on: Mon 13th Jun, 2022 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

On May 12, 2022, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission “EEOC” released a technical assistance document titled “The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Use of Software, Algorithms, and Artificial Intelligence to Assess Job Applicants and Employees.” The purpose of the guidance is to assist applicants, employees and employers on the use of technology (artificial intelligence, algorithms and software) to ensure compliance with the ADA. This guidance also responds to the growing trend of employers to utilize technology as an efficient means to perform a variety of hiring or h...

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U.S. Department of Justice Issues Guidance on Application of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to Persons with Opioid Use Disorders

By: Peter J. Halesey, Esquire


Published on: Mon 13th Jun, 2022 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

The ongoing opioid crisis has created numerous challenges over diverse sectors of the law. In the labor and employment realm, employers struggle to achieve clarity on their obligations to employees who may need treatment or may be in recovery from opioid use disorders. Recently, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a guidance document on the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to those individuals who are treating for, or are in recovery from, opioid use disorder. In its guidance document, styled in a question-and-answer format, DOJ provided guidanc...

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Medical Marijuana, CBD Oil and the Workplace: Recent Case Developments.

By: Paul N. Lalley, Esquire


Published on: Tue 12th Apr, 2022 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

The tension between federal law and state laws legalizing marijuana (and related products like CBD oil) for medical purposes has presented problems for Pennsylvania’s public employers that our firm has discussed in prior articles about Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act. A federal court in Pennsylvania recently dismissed a case in which the plaintiff claimed that she was discriminated against based on her use of CDB oil. In a separate development, the United States Supreme Court is being asked to consider whether state laws that require workers’ compensation reimbursemen...

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Act 120 Certification and Protection from Abuse Orders: Officers subject to final PFA orders face revocation or suspension of their Act 120 certification

By: Joshua C. Hausman, Esquire


Published on: Tue 12th Apr, 2022 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

Pennsylvania municipal police officers subject to protection from abuse orders containing firearm relinquishment requirements have always been subject to suspension or revocation of their Act 120 certification by the Municipal Police Officers Training Commission (“MPOETC”). What some municipal employers may not know is that amendments to Pennsylvania’s Protection from Abuse Act and Uniform Firearms Act which went into effect in 2019 changed the law to require all final protection from abuse orders to order the relinquishment of firearms. Correspondingly, the Uniform Firearms Act was ...

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How to Deal with the Bad Boys of Your Police Department

By: Allison N. Genard, Esquire


Published on: Mon 11th Apr, 2022 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

In a world with constantly and rapidly changing technology and deteriorating confidence in police, local politicians have a lot on their plate when it comes to police discipline. There is a constant tug of war between supporting the police department and holding officers accountable to bolster citizen trust in the police and the municipalities that control them. Outside of being involved in municipal governance, many people do not realize the types of misconduct that arise within a police department. For instance, a California Appeals Court recently upheld the termination of two police off...

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EEOC Issues Guidance on COVID-19 Related Caregiver Discrimination and Religious Accommodations for Mandatory Vaccines

By: Richard D. Miller, Esq. and Erin K. Corcoran, Esq.


Published on: Fri 1st Apr, 2022 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) continues to update its guidance on employers’ obligations during the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. Most recently, the EEOC has provided further guidance on COVID-19 related caregiver discrimination in the workplace, and religious accommodation requests for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations. On March 14, 2022, the EEOC added a section to its COVID-19 guidance titled, “Caregivers/Family Responsibilities,...

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Provisional Hiring is Once Again Permitted While a New Hire Waits for CPSL Background Clearances

Michael A. Palombo, Esq. and Julie A. Aquino, Esq.


Published on: Wed 2nd Mar, 2022 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

Since 2015, the Child Protective Services Law (“CPSL”) has required background clearances for employees and volunteers who have direct contact with children under eighteen years of age. The precise rules regarding these clearances have changed more than once since 2015. The most recent modification, the result of House Bill No. 764 (Act 12 of 2022), allows employers to provisionally hire an employee for up to forty-five (45) days while the employee is waiting on receipt of either the completed FBI clearance or the Pennsylvania State Police clearance, if certain conditions are met. In ord...

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There And Back Again – DOL Issues, Then Withdraws, COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing FLSA Guidance

By: Hobart J. Webster, Esq.


Published on: Thu 10th Feb, 2022 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

On January 20, 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued Fact Sheet #84, “Compensability of Time Spent Undergoing COVID-19 Health Screenings, Testing, and Vaccinations Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)” addressing the circumstances under which employers are required to pay employees for time spent obtaining COVID-19 vaccinations or undergoing COVID-19 testing. The following day, however, DOL withdrew that guidance, likely because Fact Sheet #84 cited to and partially relied upon the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) Emergency Temporary St...

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Police Officer Physical Agility Tests: Have you examined yours in light of recent litigation?

By Erin Corcoran, Esq. and Shon K. Worner, Esq.


Published on: Thu 10th Feb, 2022 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

In December 2021, a Federal District Court approved a $2.2 million settlement entered into between the Pennsylvania State Police (“PSP”) and the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) in a lawsuit claiming that the PSP’s physical fitness tests for entry-level state troopers discriminated against female candidates in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In the lawsuit, the DOJ claimed that the fitness tests dating back to 2003 had unlawfully screened out female candidates and that alternative tests existed that would not have had a disparate impact on female applicants, ...

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U.S. Treasury Issues Final Guidance for the American Rescue Plan Act’s Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund

By: David E. Mitchell, Esquire


Published on: Tue 18th Jan, 2022 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

The United States Department of the Treasury released its highly anticipated Final Rule for the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (“SLFRF”) on January 6, 2022. Despite its length, the 437 page Final Rule is generally more flexible than the prior Treasury guidance and in many cases makes it easier for local governments to spend the COVID-19 relief funds they are receiving under the American Rescue Plan Act. The Final Rule begins, as it must, by reiterating the statutory requirements established by Congress in the American Rescue Plan Act. Local Fiscal Recovery Fund...

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The Supreme Court Rules on OSHA’s Emergency Vaccination and Testing Mandates

By: Tiffany R. Allen, Esq. and David E. Mitchell, Esq.


Published on: Tue 18th Jan, 2022 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

On January 13, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court issued decisions in two (2) landmark cases analyzing the federal government's authority to mandate vaccine policies in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, but those decisions will have very limited impact on governmental employers. In National Federation of Independent Business v. OSHA, 595 U.S. ___ (2022) (Slip Opinion), the Court stayed OSHA’s emergency vaccine and testing mandate created to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Under OSHA’s mandate, private sector employers with at least 100 employees would have been required to enforce ma...

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CDC Modifies COVID-19 Isolation and Quarantine Duration

By: Shon K. Worner, Esq. and Ben R. Patchen, Esq.


Published on: Tue 11th Jan, 2022 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

On Monday, December 27, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) issued updated guidance which reduced quarantine and isolation restrictions for Americans. The CDC refers to “isolation” as guidance for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, while the term “quarantine” is used for individuals who have been directly exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. For those individuals that have tested positive for COVID-19, the updated CDC guidance reduces the isolation time from 10 days to 5 days, as long as the person is asymptomatic after...

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Allegheny County Paid Sick Leave Ordinance Goes Into Effect

By: Julie A. Aquino, Esq. and Jonathan F. Whalen, Esq.


Published on: Wed 29th Dec, 2021 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

As of December 15, 2021, Allegheny County’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance went into effect, which requires employers that employ twenty-six (26) or more employees, situated in or doing business in Allegheny County, to provide their employees with one (1) hour of paid sick leave for every thirty-five (35) hours worked within Allegheny County, up to a maximum of forty (40) hours in a calendar year, unless the employer designates a higher amount. The Ordinance applies to local government employers, as well as private sector employers, and covers both full-time and part-time employees, but not se...

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End of Year Check-in: Are your Job Descriptions Accurate and Up to Date?

By Robert Vernon, Esq.


Published on: Thu 16th Dec, 2021 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

The pandemic has accelerated necessary technology improvements and, by extension, requests from employees to work from home. Whether work-from-home arrangements work in the public sector is debatable and certainly limited to job functions that do not require in-person engagement. These requests for work from home arrangements or remote work have highlighted the necessity for all employers to review, revise and update job descriptions. Thorough, well-crafted, and up-to-date job descriptions are a necessary tool for both the efficient management of a municipality and also for protections...

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Pre-Employment Drug Testing and Medical Marijuana

By: Joshua C. Hausman, Esq. and Julie A. Aquino, Esq.


Published on: Thu 16th Dec, 2021 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

In 2016, Pennsylvania became the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana by the passage of the Medical Marijuana Act. The Act established access to medical marijuana for individuals with qualifying health conditions from approved and licensed dispensaries. While the Act was comprehensive in establishing a framework for patients, growers, and dispensaries, it was much less thorough in defining how employers in Pennsylvania should address medical marijuana use by job applicants and employees. The Medical Marijuana Act does not require employers to accommodate the use of medical marijuana in...

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EEOC Updated Guidance on Religious Exemptions from Vaccine Mandates

Michael A. Palombo, Esq. and Paul N. Lalley, Esq., Campbell Durrant, P.C.


Published on: Thu 11th Nov, 2021 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

The EEOC recently updated its guidance on how employers who mandate employee vaccinations should address employee claims of religious exemption. It did so in response to numerous questions about an employer’s obligation to provide a religious exemption from a Covid-19 vaccine mandate. As the EEOC has repeatedly made clear, employers may require their employees to be vaccinated and that requirement does not violate the ADA. Title VII of the Federal Civil Right Act of 1964, however, protects against religion-based discrimination in employment and, in certain circumstances, requires an e...

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President Biden's COVID-19 Action Plan Does Not Impact Pennsylvania Municipalities, But the Times They Are A-Changing

By: David E. Mitchell, Esquire and Joshua C. Hausman, Esquire


Published on: Thu 16th Sep, 2021 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

On September 9, the Biden Administration announced the “COVID-19 Action Plan” in response to the ongoing nationwide surge of COVID-19 fueled by the Delta variant. Of particular interest to employers, the Plan provides that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) is developing a rule which will require all employers with one hundred (100) or more employees to require vaccinations or weekly testing for COVID-19 of all employees. Contemporaneously, President Biden signed executive orders mandating vaccinations for all federal executive branch employees and all employe...

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Is It Time to Mandate the Vaccine? The Delta Variant Surge and The Full Approval of The Pfizer Vaccine Have Many Employers Considering Mandates.

By: Benjamin R. Patchen, Esquire and Tiffany R. Allen, Esquire


Published on: Fri 3rd Sep, 2021 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

The 2021 early summer season initially brought relief and hope to many as transmission of the COVID-19 virus steadily declined. The pandemic restrictions that kept us away from loved ones were lifted, and we were able to travel and enjoy our favorite summer activities. Employers brought employees who were working from home back into the office, and relaxed masking and social distancing policies for vaccinated employees. However, as summer progressed a new, stronger mutation of the coronavirus, named the Delta variant, began affecting the United States. As of Augus...

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EEOC Issues Guidance on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Discrimination

By: Julie A. Aquino, Esquire


Published on: Fri 3rd Sep, 2021 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

The EEOC recently issued guidance regarding sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in the workplace. As you may recall, the United States Supreme Court held in 2020 that discriminating against employees because of their sexual orientation or transgender status violates Title VII’s prohibition on discrimination based on “sex.” Accordingly, Title VII forbids sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, benefits, etc. It is al...

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COVID-19 Update - A Return to Masking, and New Guidance on COVID and the Americans with Disabilities Act

By: Richard D. Miller, Esquire and Jonathan F. Whalen, Esquire


Published on: Fri 3rd Sep, 2021 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

On July 27, 2021, the CDC issued updated guidance for fully vaccinated people in response to the “Delta” variant of the COVID-19 virus that is currently circulating throughout the U.S. In a reversal of course from just a few months ago, the CDC is now recommending that fully vaccinated individuals wear masks indoors in areas of “substantial or high transmission” of the virus. These new guidelines come on the heels of “a reversal in the downward trajectory” of COVID-19 cases and in the context of a “rapid and alarming rise in the COVID case and hospitalization rates around the ...

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Is Your Police Department Prepared for the July 14 Implementation Date for Act 57 and Act 59?

By Gretchen K. Love, Esq. and Julie A. Aquino, Esq.


Published on: Tue 27th Jul, 2021 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

Is Your Police Department Prepared for the July 14 Implementation Date for Act 57 and Act 59? Has your police department taken steps to prepare for Act 57 and Act 59? Both acts went into effect on July 14, 2021, and steps should include amending police civil service regulations to incorporate the new Act 57 hiring procedures, as well as understanding the new rules pertaining to evaluation and treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”), including mandatory evaluation following the use of lethal force. Act 57 governs hiring and termination of law enforcement officers. ...

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New Public Meeting Requirements Under the Sunshine Act

By Gretchen K. Love, Esq. and Julie A. Aquino, Esq.


Published on: Wed 14th Jul, 2021 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

Effective August 29, 2021, government agencies covered under the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act, including local governments, must make meeting agendas available to the public 24 hours in advance of public meetings. These new rules are pursuant to recent amendments (“Act 65”) to the Sunshine Act, signed by Governor Wolf on June 30, 2021. Under Act 65, if an agency has a public website, the meeting agenda must be posted on the website no later than 24 hours prior to the start of the meeting. The agenda must also be posted, 24 hours in advance, at the agency’s principal office and at the meetin...

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CDC Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Individuals Impacts Pennsylvania’s Masking Order


Published on: Thu 20th May, 2021 By: Patrick J. Harvey

By Patrick J. Harvey and Paul N. Lalley, Campbell Durrant, P.C. On May 13, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued revised guidance for individuals who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 that significantly changes the rules with respect to mask wearing and social distancing. The CDC guidance is immediately applicable to Pennsylvania employers due to a previous amendment to the Commonwealth’s Mask Order allowing exceptions to that Order based upon CDC guidance. So, what did the CDC say? Fully vaccinated people are not required to wear a mask or to socially distan...

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U.S. Treasury Issues Guidance Regarding American Rescue Plan Act Funding for Local Governments


Published on: Mon 17th May, 2021 By: David E. Mitchell

By David E. Mitchell, Esq. and Jonathan Whalen, Esq. On May 10, 2021, the United States Department of the Treasury issued its initial guidance and draft regulations regarding the proper use of Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund money being distributed to municipalities under the American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”). Although the initial guidance raises some new questions, it provides several important answers and fills in some critical gaps in the statutory language. ARPA permits local governments receiving Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund money to use it for expenditures...

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Department of Labor Issues Opinion Letter Clarifying Compensability of Travel Time for Teleworking Employees


Published on: Mon 3rd May, 2021 By: Jonathan F. Whalen

With the prevalence of remote work due to the pandemic, employers are asking how non-exempt employees are compensated if they travel from their home office to a work site within the same work day. The U.S. Department of Labor ("DOL") issued an Opinion Letter on December 31, 2020 addressing this question against the backdrop of the following principles: 1) the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") requires that employees be compensated for "working," which means that they must be compensated for actions taken "for the benefit of the employer," 2) an employee does not need to be paid for hours that ...

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American Rescue Plan Act and Temporary COBRA Subsidies For Qualifying Individuals


Published on: Mon 3rd May, 2021 By: Julie A. Aquino

The 2021 American Rescue Plan Act includes important new COBRA subsidies, effective April 1 through September 30, 2021. Compliance with the new program is mandatory and it applies broadly to almost all employers and health plans. The COBRA subsidy program is mandatory for any group health plan sponsored by an employer, union, or state or local government that is subject to COBRA, and to those enrolled in group health insurance under state mini-COBRA laws. For employees involuntarily terminated and eligible for COBRA, the terminated employee is not responsible for the monthly COBRA continua...

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Police Hiring: Municipalities cannot blindly rely on psychological evaluations to reject applicants.


Published on: Mon 15th Mar, 2021 By: Brian P. Gabriel

By: Brian P. Gabriel, Esq. and Hobart J. Webster, Esq. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently reversed a decision granting the City of Pittsburgh’s motion to dismiss in Christophe Gibbs v. City of Pittsburgh, holding that the results of a pre-employment psychological evaluation will not insulate a municipality from discrimination claims and that the allegations were sufficient for the case to proceed. When Gibbs applied to be a Pittsburgh police officer, he “aced the written test and got a conditional job offer.” As required by 37 Pa. Code § 203.11(a)(7), Gibbs had to be “...

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Commonwealth Court: Non-Civil Service Borough Police Chief Can’t Claim Civil Service Protection From Dismissal


Published on: Wed 3rd Mar, 2021 By: Paul N. Lalley

In a decision issued on February 10, 2021, the Commonwealth Court affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by a former borough police chief whose position was eliminated by Borough Council. The decision in Romutis v. Borough of Ellwood City ruled that the Borough Code authorizes the hiring of a police chief outside of the civil service process, and that a police chief who is so hired lacks the statutory protection from dismissal of the Borough Code’s civil service provisions. Chief Romutis was hired as the Borough of Ellwood City’s Chief of Police in 2010. The Borough did not hire Ro...

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Certification under the Executive Order on Safe Policing for Safe Communities

Published in the January, 2020 PELRAS Scoop Articles


Published on: Wed 20th Jan, 2021 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

In June of 2020 President Trump signed the Executive Order on Safe Policing for Safe Communities (“the Order”). Among other items, the Order conditions eligibility to receive DOJ discretionary grant funding on state or local law enforcement agencies having received or seeking certification from a credentialing agency of the following two (2) conditions: (1) The State or local law enforcement agency’s use-of-force policies adhere to all applicable Federal, State, and local laws; and (2) The State or local law enforcement agency’s use-of-force policies prohibit the use of chok...

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COVID-19 Vaccinations and Employment Considerations: Vaccination requirements may be a shot in the dark

Published in the January, 2020 PELRAS Scoop Articles


Published on: Wed 20th Jan, 2021 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

In December, the Food and Drug Administration issued Emergency Use Authorizations (“EUAs”) for two (2) COVID-19 vaccines which are now being distributed nationwide. These vaccines, and others which will follow, are important life-saving breakthroughs and their rapid development are remarkable achievements in the field of medical science. However, the question of whether employers can require that their employees receive the vaccine is a complicated one. From what we know now, EEOC guidance indicates an employer can implement policies requiring their employees be vaccinated against COVID...

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The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act Does Not Require Accommodation of Medical Marijuana Use

Published in the November, 2020 PELRAS Scoop Articles


Published on: Wed 25th Nov, 2020 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

In Harrisburg Area Community College v. Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court has ruled that the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) does not require accommodation of a student’s use of medical marijuana. The case involved a PHRC charge brought by a student in HACC’s nursing program who was prescribed medical marijuana for post-traumatic stress disorder and irritable bowel syndrome. The student brought the charge to challenge HACC’s policy that required nursing students to pass a drug test. School officials refused to permit the student an...

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Pennsylvania Excludes Governmental Employers from State Overtime Regulations

Published in the October, 2020 PELRAS Scoop Articles


Published on: Thu 22nd Oct, 2020 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

The Department of Labor and Industry (“Department”) issued the final version of its new overtime regulations interpreting the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act (“Act”) on October 3, 2020, but there is good news for municipalities and other governmental employers. In commentary issued with the new regulations, the Department confirmed its position that its overtime regulations “have been and continue to be inapplicable to public employers, including State-affiliated entities, counties, municipalities and public-school systems” and that nothing in the new Pennsylvania overtime r...

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EEOC Releases Guidance on Employee Use of Codeine, Oxycodone and Other Opioids

Published in the September, 2020 issue of the PELRAS newsletter


Published on: Mon 14th Sep, 2020 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

Opioid medications are often prescribed legally but are tied to addiction problems and may impact the safe performance of job duties. For this reason, the EEOC recently released guidance clarifying the agency’s views regarding opioid addiction and employment discrimination, a full copy of which is available on the EEOC’s website. “Opioids” include prescription drugs, among others, such as codeine, morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, Oxycontin, Percocet, Demerol, and Vicodin. “Opioids” also include Suboxone or Subutex and methadone, which are prescribed to treat addiction in a Medicat...

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EEOC Issues Updated Guidance on COVID-19 and EEOC Laws

Published in the July, 2020 issue of the PELRAS newsletter


Published on: Tue 7th Jul, 2020 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

On June 11, 2020 and June 17, 2020, the EEOC updated its Question and Answer document on COVID-19 and equal employment opportunity laws. The EEOC confirmed that employers are not required to provide accommodations for disabilities of family members of employees. The EEOC also announced that although employers may test employees to determine if they have an active case of COVID-19, employers may not require COVID-19 antibody testing.
The EEOC’s ...

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Commonwealth Court Rules that CBD User is Eligible for Unemployment Compensation Benefits

Published in the July, 2020 issue of the PELRAS newsletter


Published on: Tue 7th Jul, 2020 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

On May 11, 2020, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court upheld the state Unemployment Compensation Board of Review’s (“Board”) order granting benefits to a Cannabidiol (“CBD”) user after her employment was terminated for testing positive for marijuana. Washington Health Sys. v. Unemployment Compensation Bd. of Rev., 2020 WL 2312347 (Pa. Commw. Ct. May 11, 2020). The majority opinion concluded that the employee was eligible for benefits because the employer did not submit the drug test result as evidence and thus failed to demonstrate that the employee violated its Drug and Alcohol Fre...

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Supreme Court Rules Title VII Protects Gay and Transgender Employees

Published in the June, 2020 PELRAS Scoop Articles


Published on: Wed 17th Jun, 2020 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

In a historic decision, the Supreme Court held that an employer who fires an individual for being gay or transgender violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. In a 6-3 decision, the Court concluded that Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination “because of sex” includes protections against employment decisions due to bias against gay and transgender employees. Before the Court were three cases each involving termination of an employee after the employer learned that the employee was homosexual or transgender. In writing for the majority, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote that ...

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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Reversal in Carr v. PennDOT - Disciplining Public Employees for Social Media Postings

Published in the May, 2020 PELRAS Scoop Articles


Published on: Wed 27th May, 2020 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

On Tuesday, May 19, 2020, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed the Commonwealth Court’s decision in Carr v. PennDOT and held that a public employer may terminate a probationary employee based on messages she posted on a social networking website. In an Opinion authored by Justice Mundy and joined by Chief Justice Saylor and Justices Baer, Todd, Donohue, and Wecht, the Court determined that the Commonwealth Court failed to engage in the proper Pickering/Connick balancing of interests and thereby erred in reversing the Civil Service Commission’s order dismissing the probationary employee...

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Act 17 of 2020 Provides Sixty Days of COVID-19 Full Salary Benefits

Published in the April, 2020 PELRAS Scoop Articles


Published on: Thu 30th Apr, 2020 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

Governor Wolf on April 29, 2020 signed Act 17 of 2020 (“Act 17”) which provides full salary benefits to police, paid firefighters, and other covered employees for up to 60 days per incident if they are unable to work because they have contracted or been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are subject to quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure. All Pennsylvania municipalities and governmental employers should be careful in paying full salary benefits under Act 17 because it does not require proof of work-related causation. Any payment of such full salary benefits should only be made after the employ...

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Probationary Periods in Times of Pandemic: Don’t Let the Coronavirus Distract You from the Need to Effectively Evaluate New Employees

Published in the April, 2020 PELRAS Scoop Articles


Published on: Mon 27th Apr, 2020 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives in profoundly significant ways, and there is as of now no clear end in sight to the changes which it has wrought. Municipalities across the Commonwealth have been forced to implement radical operational changes in response to rapidly evolving circumstances, and additional changes could be forthcoming as the situation continues to develop. However, the ongoing pandemic should not distract municipal employers from the need to evaluate those recently hired employees who are currently serving probationary periods. It is said that the m...

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Now Is Not the Time to “Roll Over” a Collective Bargaining Agreement: Essential Collective Bargaining Steps for the Covid-19 Economic Crisis

Published in the April, 2020 PELRAS Scoop Articles


Published on: Tue 7th Apr, 2020 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

Unfortunately, even after the COVID-19 health crisis subsides municipalities will be faced with severe fiscal challenges when dealing with catastrophic losses in pension fund valuations and substantial losses in tax revenues. As the collective bargaining timelines under Act 111 and Act 195 approach, unions already have been requesting municipalities to “just roll over” existing collective bargaining agreements. Your answer to such requests should be an emphatic no. Municipalities must avoid the short term temptation to avoid any contract roll over due to the current maelstrom of COVID...

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Another Wave of COVID-19 Personnel Considerations

Published in the April, 2020 PELRAS Scoop Articles


Published on: Fri 3rd Apr, 2020 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

Since the start of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, many municipal employers across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have engaged in an extraordinary juggling act between fighting the spread of coronavirus in the community and workplace, maintaining public services and continuing to pay employees full salary even as they work reduced schedules. While some municipalities may plan on continuing such efforts in the short term, the sustainability of this arrangement will be questioned as municipal tax revenue declines. Municipalities need to be proactive in identifying cost savings through...

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Working Remotely During the Coronavirus Pandemic


Published on: Tue 17th Mar, 2020 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

Telecommuting or “telework” is defined in the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 as, "a work flexibility arrangement under which an employee performs the duties and responsibilities of such employee's position, and other authorized activities, from an approved worksite other than the location from which the employee would otherwise work." While the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 is only applicable to federal employees and it is not applicable to employees of local governments and private employers, it does provide some guidance for what it means to work remotely from an employer’s norm...

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New Immunity Exception under Pennsylvania’s Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act Expands Municipal Liability Exposure

Published in the February, 2020 PELRAS Scoop Articles


Published on: Tue 4th Feb, 2020 By: Shon K. Worner

Except for specified exceptions, under Pennsylvania’s Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act, (“Tort Claims Act”) “no local agency shall be liable for any damages on account of an injury to person or property caused by an act of the local agency or an employee thereof or any other person.” 42 Pa. C.S. § 8541. An important new immunity exception was added to that list on November 26, 2019, when Governor Wolf signed Act 87 of 2019, which added “sexual abuse” as a new immunity exception to the Tort Claims Act. Per newly added §8542(9), “sexual abuse” is defined as “conduc...

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Year-End Legislation Repeals High-Cost Health Insurance “Cadillac” Tax

Published in the January, 2020 PELRAS Scoop Articles


Published on: Mon 27th Jan, 2020 By: David E. Mitchell

The President recently signed the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (“SECURE Act”), funding the government through September 30, 2020 and averting a government shutdown. Among many other retirement and health care provisions, this year-end spending package contained a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s (“ACA”) tax on high-cost health plans known as the “Cadillac Tax.” The Cadillac Tax was intended to curb the tax preferred treatment of employer-sponsored health plans, reduce excess health spending, and raise revenue to cover the costs o...

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Common Pleas Court Holds that Private Right of Action Exists Under Medical Marijuana Act

Published in the December, 2019 issue of the PELRAS newsletter


Published on: Fri 13th Dec, 2019 By: Brad J. Betack

In a case of first impression, the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas has recently held that the Medical Marijuana Act includes a private cause of action for aggrieved employees to bring discrimination claims against employers. Specifically, in Palmiter v. Commonwealth Health Systems Inc., the Court held that although the Medical Marijuana Act does not explicitly permit a private right of action by an employee who is allegedly discriminated against because of medical marijuana use, it does so implicitly. The Medical Marijuana Act was passed on May 17, 2016, authorizing individuals wit...

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Social Media Policies: What Can and Can’t an Employer Prohibit?

Published in the December, 2019 issue of the PELRAS newsletter


Published on: Fri 13th Dec, 2019 By: Hobart J. Webster

Can a government employer discipline a public employee because of their social media post? The answer to this question is that famous lawyerly phrase, it depends. Luckily, three U.S. Supreme Court can help us answer that question: Pickering v. Board of Education, 391 U.S. 563 (1968), Connick v. Myers, 461 U.S. 138 (1983), and Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 410 (2006). Pickering remains the Supreme Court’s seminal case on the First Amendment rights of public employees. Pickering established the principle that public employees do not relinquish their right to speak on matters of public ...

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Don’t Forget to Renew Mandatory Background Clearances Under the CPSL!

Published in the December, 2019 issue of the PELRAS newsletter


Published on: Fri 13th Dec, 2019 By: Julie A. Aquino

In late 2014, the Pennsylvania General Assembly made sweeping changes to the Child Protective Services Law (“CPSL”), largely as a response to the Jerry Sandusky case. These changes impacted, among others, all paid employees and unpaid volunteers in Pennsylvania who have “direct contact with children” or who are responsible for the welfare of a child. 23 Pa.C.S. §§6344(a)(4), 6344.2(a). The law defines “direct contact with children” as “[t]he care, supervision, guidance or control of children and routine interaction with children.” The law defines “child” as an individua...

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