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Governor Wolf Signs Police Reform Measures Into Law: Police departments should begin to prepare for when the new legal requirements become effective in one year.

Published in the July, 2020 PELRAS Scoop Articles


Published on: Fri 17th Jul, 2020 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

On July 14th Governor Wolf signed into law a police background check bill and a police post-traumatic stress bill. The requirements of both laws become effective one year from today but municipal police departments should start implementing the requirements of both laws well before the July 14, 2021 deadline. The background check law, Act 57 of 2020, is designed to make information regarding the employment and separation of police officers more readily available to law enforcement agencies that are hiring police officers. The law requires that the hiring law enforcement agency must conduc...

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“Hot Spot” or Not: Employer Travel Policies in the Time of COVID-19

Published in the July, 2020 PELRAS Scoop Articles


Published on: Fri 17th Jul, 2020 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

At the high point of summer vacation season, a surge in COVID-19 cases resulted in the Pennsylvania Department of Health recommending quarantine periods for individuals who have traveled to designated hotspot states. On July 2, the Pennsylvania Department of Health issued a travel advisory recommending that visitors to hotspot states quarantine for a period of fourteen (14) days after returning to Pennsylvania. The Department of Health website updates this state hotspot list periodically ba...

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Governor Wolf Announces Mandatory Masking: All public employers should be requiring their employees to wear masks

Published in the July, 2020 PELRAS Scoop Articles


Published on: Wed 8th Jul, 2020 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

On July 1, 2020 Pennsylvania Secretary of the Department of Health Rachel Levine, MD signed an Order requiring the wearing of masks whenever a person is in spaces generally open to the public, including outdoors when social distancing is unable to be observed. Previously, under the Secretary’s April 15 Order, businesses were directed to require employees wear masks when on the worksite. Businesses were directed to also require that all customers wear masks while on the premises. Later guidance documentation issued by the Department of Health clarified that while local governments were adv...

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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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COBRA Election Deadlines Extended Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

Published in the June, 2020 PELRAS Scoop Articles


Published on: Wed 3rd Jun, 2020 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

As part of a broad response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) and Department of Labor (“DOL”) recently implemented a Joint Notice extending deadlines applicable to the election of continued group health plan coverage pursuant to COBRA. The federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (“COBRA”) permits individuals and their family who would otherwise be dropped by an employer’s health plan for a variety of qualifying reasons to elect continuation of coverage for a period of time by making payments equaling 102 percent of...

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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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Furlough and Layoff Considerations During COVID-19


Published on: Thu 30th Apr, 2020 By: COVID-19

Many Pennsylvania local governments are trying to respond to the financial fallout from the COVID-19 crisis. This webinar discusses legal and practical considerations for Pennsylvania municipalities and counties who are considering furloughing or laying off employees as part of that response. This webinar will be helpful for managers, human resources and labor relations staff, and elected officials.

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Published on: Thu 19th Mar, 2020 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) is part of Congress’ comprehensive legislative response to the economic and public health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The FFCRA includes a number of changes to public assistance programs, unemployment compensation benefits administration, as well as mandates for certain paid leave related to coronavirus-related work absences. The FFCRA is really a collection of legislation on different subjects related to the coronavirus emergency, some of which amend existing legislation (such as, temporarily, the Family and Medical Leave ...

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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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Published on: Mon 16th Mar, 2020 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

I. THE GOVERNOR’S RESPONSE TO COVID-19 Pennsylvania Governor, Tom Wolf, has ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses to close their physical locations as of 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 19, 2020 in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Governor’s Order can be found here. Enforcement actions against businesses that fail to close began Monday, March 23, at 8:00 am. There is currently no end date for this mandatory closure. The list of life-sustaining businesses that...

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Published in the March, 2020 PELRAS Scoop Articles


Published on: Thu 12th Mar, 2020 By: Campbell Durrant, P.C.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently posted a guidance regarding preparedness in the workplace for Coronavirus (COVID-19). The guidance clarifies the ability of employers to take concrete steps in response to COVID-19, such as, among others, instructing employees with flu like symptoms to stay home from work. See the full guidance at https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/wysk/wysk_ada_rehabilitaion_act_coronavirus.cfm. The EEOC explains that while the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) still applies during a pandemic, the ADA should not interfere with employers fo...

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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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Published in the January, 2020 PELRAS Scoop Articles


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

Effective December 31, 2019, the Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services Law (“CPSL”) was again amended and the amendment removed the provisional period for employees who have direct contact with children to work for up to ninety (90) days prior to obtaining the required clearances. Accordingly, an employee who has direct contact with children may no longer begin that position until the employer has received proof of the three (3) clearances mandated by the state: (1) criminal history record obtained from the Pennsylvania State Police; (2) child abuse clearance obtained through the PA...

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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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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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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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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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Published in the October, 2019 issue of the PELRAS newsletter


Published on: Mon 28th Oct, 2019 By: Julie A. Aquino

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently issued a decision that broadens the protections afforded to part-time police officers in boroughs. Deforte v. Borough of Worthington, 212 A.3d 1018 (Pa. 2019). This decision suggests that either the Borough Code or the Police Tenure Act protections extend to part-time police officers regardless of whether they were hired through a civil service process. The Borough of Worthington in Armstrong County employed four part-time police officers, including its Chief of Police at the time, DeForte. The Borough discharged DeForte and a patrol officer, Towns...

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Published in the October, 2019 issue of the PELRAS newsletter


Published on: Mon 28th Oct, 2019 By: Julie A. Aquino

In 2018, the Pennsylvania Clean Slate Law was enacted and created an automated computerized process to seal arrests that did not result in convictions within 60 days, summary convictions after 10 years, and certain second and third-degree misdemeanor convictions if there are no subsequent misdemeanor or felony convictions for a period of 10 years after the time of conviction. Under the Clean Slate law, some first degree misdemeanor offenses can also be sealed by petition. For an offense to be automatically sealed, all court fines must have been paid. Importantly, the Clean Slate Law does not...

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Published in the October, 2019 issue of the PELRAS newsletter


Published on: Thu 24th Oct, 2019 By: Robert Vernon

The Eighth Circuit recently upheld the principle that mandatory overtime could be recognized as an essential job function, meaning that a disabled employee could not request to avoid working overtime as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”). In McNeil v. Union Pacific Railroad Co., the employee worked as a critical call dispatcher at Union Pacific’s 24-hour dispatch call center, where her job included responding to calls related to incidents on or near railroad property to help ensure employee and public safety. In order to guarantee that th...

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Published in the September, 2019 PA Insider Newsletter Articles


Published on: Mon 30th Sep, 2019 By: Joshua C. Hausman

On September 24, 2019, the Department of Labor published a final rule which, when it becomes effective on January 1, 2020, will increase the salary threshold necessary for an employee to be considered exempt from the minimum wage and overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). Beginning next year, employees earning less than $35,568 per year, or $684 per week, will become entitled to overtime pay. The Department of Labor estimates that 1.2 million employees who are currently exempt will gain overtime eligibility under the new rule. Section 13(a)(1) of the FLSA ex...

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Published in the August, 2019 PA Insider Newsletter Articles


Published on: Thu 29th Aug, 2019 By: Paul N. Lalley

Don’t look now, but September 12th is right around the corner. To most people, September 12th is just another day on the calendar, but for municipal managers and elected officials, it is the all-important deadline for demanding interest arbitration under Act 111, and as such, one of the most important dates of the calendar year relating the municipality’s budget and fiscal health. With that date fast approaching, municipalities that are bargaining with uniformed personnel must be thoroughly prepared to take action by either properly demanding interest arbitration or responding in a time...

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Published in the August, 2019 PA Insider Newsletter Articles


Published on: Thu 29th Aug, 2019 By: Patrick J. Harvey

Scores of Municipalities across the Commonwealth are being called by reporters and asked to comment on offensive police officer social media posts including posts encouraging vigilantism, racist postings, anti-gay and anti-Muslim postings. Spurred on by the work of the Plain View Project (https://www.plainviewproject.org), which resulted in over 72 Philadelphia officers being suspended and 13 fired due to offensive social media posts, reporters are reviewing and reporting on inappropriate social media postings by police officers. The potential reach of this issue was highlighted last we...

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Published in the August, 2019 issue of the PELRAS newsletter


Published on: Tue 27th Aug, 2019 By: Hobart J. Webster

On July 3, 2019, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted Northern Berks Regional Police Commission’s (the “Commission”) Petition for Allowance of Appeal in Northern Berks Reg’l Police Comm’n v. Berks County Fraternal Order of Police, 196 A.3d 715 (Pa. Commw. 2018). The Commission appealed a Commonwealth Court decision overturning a Berks County Court of Common Pleas’ order vacating an arbitration award that reinstated a police officer who had been terminated after permanently losing access to the Pennsylvania Justice Network (“JNET”), Commonwealth Law Enforcement Assistance Netw...

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Published in the August, 2019 issue of the PELRAS newsletter


Published on: Tue 27th Aug, 2019 By: Brad J. Betack

Municipal police departments are facing intense scrutiny after a nationwide database was compiled, collecting thousands of violent and offensive social media posts by police officers, raising questions of credibility and bias of the officers and potential liability concerns for their municipal employers. The database was created by a group of attorneys who discovered, in 2016, numerous postings on Facebook from several Philadelphia police officers, which supported and endorsed violence, racism and bigotry. As a result, the group created the database, known as the Plain View Project, for...

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