Steps Employers Can Take to Prevent and Respond to Claims of Sexual Harassment >
December 4, 2017
High-profile instances of inappropriate sexual behavior and sexual harassment in the workplace continue to grab headlines. While media coverage has focused on cases from the media, entertainment and political arenas, every employer should have heightened awareness of sexual harassment in the workplace at this time, regardless of industry. Of course, the media coverage of the multiple sexual harassment incidents also raises the consciousness of employees on this topic and offers employers an opportunity to engage with them through training and other proactive measures.
Pennsylvania Imposes New Withholding Requirements on Businesses >
November 27, 2017
On October 30, 2017, Governor Wolf signed House Bill 542 (H.B. 542) into law. H.B. 542 makes a variety of changes to state tax law, including requiring Pennsylvania businesses and non-profits to withhold Personal Income Tax from non-employee compensation paid to nonresident individuals and to single-member LLCs that are disregarded entities, as well as requiring withholding on payments to nonresident landlords for non-residential property located in Pennsylvania.
Right-To-Work Laws and Unions: A Look at Legislative and Judicial Actions >
November 16, 2017
As both public and private unions have faced continued headwinds in not just growth, but survival in the U.S., a variety of judicial and legislative challenges have merged. This includes “Right-to-Work” (RTW) laws and court battles in a number of states, including Pennsylvania. I recently examined RTW efforts in Pennsylvania and other states for The Legal Intelligencer's Labor and Employment Supplement.
The Pennsylvania Legislature Responds to Protz: An Analysis of House Bill 1840 >
October 11, 2017
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently issued a landmark decision in the matter of Protz v. WCAB (Derry Area School District), in which it determined that the entirety of Section 306(a.2) of the Workers' Compensation Act constitutes an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power and struck the 21-year-old provision from the Act. Pennsylvania Representatives Rob W. Kauffman and Garth D. Everett recently introduced House Bill 1840, which they have referred to as the "Protz Workers' Compensation Legislative Fix."
Pennsylvania Appellate Court Holds "Labor" Under Payment Bond for Design/Build Contract Excludes Off-Site Engineering Design Services >
October 9, 2017
On March 13, 2017, a unanimous panel of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, led by Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer, resolved the open question in Pennsylvania: whether off-site engineering and design services constitute “labor” under the Pennsylvania Bond Law (and Pennsylvania Procurement Code): such services were held to not be covered under a payment bond. Judge Jubelier's decision was affirmed on September 8, 2017 when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied the Petition for Allowance of Appeal.
PA Supreme Court: Blood Alcohol Content of Pedestrian Killed in Accident Admissible >
October 5, 2017
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court's September 28, 2017 decision in Coughlin v. Massaquoi affirmed the rulings of two lower courts permitting the introduction of expert testimony concerning a pedestrian's blood alcohol content (BAC), to prove “unfitness” to cross a roadway.
DOH Issues Temporary Regulations for Patients and Caregivers >
September 28, 2017
On September 25, 2017, the Pennsylvania Department of Health continued its efforts toward full implementation of the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program, issuing temporary regulations for patients and caregivers, even as growers and processors have sued the agency over its permit approvals potentially putting the program's progress at risk. To date, DOH has finalized temporary regulations for Growers and Processors, Dispensaries, Laboratories, Physicians and Practitioners, and Safe Harbor Letters. The regulations for patients and caregivers set forth the requirements for consumers of medical marijuana to lawfully obtain the product. DOH will accept comments on the temporary regulations through October 2, 2017, and will publish a finalized form of the temporary regulations in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
PA Supreme Court Ruling: Only Doctors Can Obtain Informed Consent >
June 22, 2017
A June 20, 2017, holding by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania will require physicians across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to change their practices for obtaining informed consent from patients. Physicians now must personally obtain informed consent and must personally answer their patients' questions. Additionally, communications between physicians' qualified staff members and patients will no longer be admissible at trials as to the issue of whether the physicians obtained informed consent from their patients. As the dissent noted, "today's decision will have a far-reaching, negative impact on the manner in which physicians serve their patients. For fear of legal liability, physicians now must be involved with every aspect of informing their patients' consent, thus delaying seriously ill patients access to physicians and the critical services that they provide."
PA Supreme Court Declares IREs Unconstitutional >
June 21, 2017
In a significant decision affecting employers, workers' compensation insurance carriers, and third-party administrators, on June 20, 2017, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declared that Section 306(a.2) of the Workers' Compensation Act constitutes an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power to the AMA and struck the 21-year-old provision from the Act. As a result of the Supreme Court's decision, the Impairment Rating Evaluation (IRE) process has been eliminated from Pennsylvania workers' compensation law.
The Commonwealth Court's Stripper Well Decision - Does it Warrant the Angst? >
April 24, 2017
On March 29, 2017, the Commonwealth Court issued its decision in Snyder Brothers, Inc. v. Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (1043 C.D. 2015). The decision appears to be a simple legal interpretation of the statutory definition of "stripper well" in a manner beneficial to Snyder Brothers and potentially generally beneficial to the unconventional natural gas industry. However, media attention and political reactions have far outstripped the Court's basic legal analysis. The decision has been cited as a harbinger of diminished impact fee revenue; as a reason to amend Act 13; and, not unexpectedly, as a justification for a new severance tax. The reactions, while not unexpected, are perhaps overstated.
DOH Issues Medical Marijuana Practitioner Rules >
April 19, 2017
Nearly a year after the Pennsylvania legislature passed the Medical Marijuana Act, 35 P.S. 10231.101 et seq., the Department of Health took a critical step in its regulatory implementation of the Act, issuing temporary regulations for physicians who will be issuing certifications to patients for use of medical marijuana. The comment period for these temporary regulations runs through April 20, 2017. This article discusses current key requirements for physicians seeking to issue patient certifications and highlights steps physicians can take to reduce potential liability when recommending medical marijuana use for patients.
Liability for What Goes on Behind Closed Doors: Sex Trafficking and the Hospitality Industry's Privacy Tightrope
March 28, 2017
Earlier this month, the Philadelphia hotel, Roosevelt Inn, its corporate parents, its New York management company, and an individual owner/manager of the hotel, were sued for allegedly allowing trafficking of sex involving a minor to take place on the hotel's premises. The case - the first of its kind invoking Pennsylvania's recently-amended human trafficking law - raises an abundance of difficult legal and ethical questions regarding hotels' legal responsibilities for and obligations concerning their guests' conduct, and how to meet those responsibilities while also respecting guests' privacy.