Sunday, December 15, 2019

'tis the Season - for Layoffs, Reductions in Force and Terminations - Pennsylvania Employment Lawyer's Checklist of Issues to Identify if an Employee is Offered Severance or a Separation Agreement

Not a Jolly Feeling, but may be a Gift in the Long Run.
Keep the Faith!
I Have Received a Separation Agreement in Pennsylvania - What Should I Look For?

This Post is intended to provide only a checklist of common issues to be aware of if offered a separation agreement in Pennsylvania. Click on the Links to more in-depth articles for each topic.

Is the Severance You've been Offered Really Severance? 
Are You Owned a Commission or Bonus?
Click Here to read the Guide to Severance Negotiations in Pennsylvania.

What is a General Release of Claims and What Does That Mean?

It means that if you sign the agreement, you forfeit any right to make any claim against the employer for anything, including earned but unpaid commissions, bonuses or vacation pay, along with any claims for violation of any discrimination laws, claims for wrongful discharge or violations of other laws such as the Family and Medical Leave Act or the Fair Labor Standards Act (governing overtime).

No Escaping a General Release
End story.

Click Here for things to know about "at will employment" and "hostile work environment" claims.

I Have Been Fired but I am Owed a Commission or Bonus

Are You Getting Everything you Deserve or to Which You are Entitled?
First, don't sign the agreement until you sort that out because the General Release included in all separation agreements will bar any subsequent claim you have for same.  Second, unless you have an open door relationship with the person who controls the company's purse strings, per se, you may want to seek counsel before taking this up on your own (and if the amount is substantial, perhaps you always want to seek counsel, because a company that does not provide for the payment of  same in the agreement is likely not guilty of innocent oversight, but rather has made a choice to try and avoid paying you).

Click Here for an Overview of Employees' Rights to Commission or Bonus When Fired

I Have Been Terminated, is my Non-Compete Enforceable in Pennsylvania?

Non-Solicitation Covenants ALWAYS remain in Force
Generally speaking, this is often the thorniest issue I encounter when dealing with a separation.  There are two types of clients in this arena: ones with a non-compete, and ones without. Make sure you identify the existence of a non-compete if you need to reach out to counsel in connection with a separation.

Click Here for Soup to Nuts on Non-Compete Agreements in Pennsylvania

I was Fired in Pennsylvania, and I am Worried that my Former Employer will Bad Mouth Me and Stop Me From Trying to Get a New Job

This is a common concern - understandable, but usually not well-founded.  You will see the the company asks you not to disparage it; will the company agree to make that obligation mutual?  Well, IBM will not bind all of its employees to such a covenant - in order to do that, it would have to notify all of its employees of the obligation - and most of those employees don't even know who you are! So, if you are concerned, try and negotiation a reciprocal obligation binding on only a few employees, what I call a "control group."  Your boss, immediate supervisor and HR, for example.

Click Here to read about What My Former Employer Can Say About Me if Asked for a Reference

Can I Get Unemployment in Pennsylvania if I Was Laid Off and Offered Severance?

First, you need to make sure your separation is properly characterized in the agreement as a lay off and not a termination for alleged willful misconduct.  Companies can be tricky with that issue!  That said, unless the severance is over around $20,000, you will not suffer any loss of unemployment benefits.  If the severance is more than $20,000, then your unemployment will be reduced on a graduating scale.

Click Here to read Answers to FAQs about Pennsylvania Unemployment Benefits

Click Here to read about What an Employee Should Say When Applying for Pennsylvania Unemployment Benefits via an Internet Application 

Should I Resign if I am Going to be Fired in Exchange for Severance?

This a common and difficult scenario. Just bear in mind that if you resign in most circumstances, you are giving up your right to unemployment benefits. The employer knows this - now you do too!

Be Careful of These, Folks!
Click Here for a Guide to Resigning or Quitting My Job in Pennsylvania and Getting Unemployment

Representing Pennsylvania's Workforce Since 1991
John A. Gallagher is an employment lawyer who represents employees in Pennsylvania. 

John typically represents workers who need an employment lawyer in Philadelphia County, Chester County, Delaware County, Bucks County, Berks County, Lancaster County and Montgomery County. He has on many occasions battled the biggest companies and the toughest law firms.

Call 610-647-5027 and We Will Discuss your Situation
and Go from There as Needed
Malvern PA Employment Employment Attorney Provides Free Telephone Consultations (15 Minutes in Duration)

If you are looking for an employment lawyer, and live in Malvern, Exton, Paoli, Downingtown, West Chester, Newtown Square, Wayne, Villanova, Bryn Mawr, Radnor, King of Prussia, Glenside, Doylestown, Philadelphia, Skippack, Langhorne, Haverford, Springfield, Nether Providence, Broomall, Drexel Hill, Lansdale, Oaks, Royersford, Pottstown, Reading or any of their surrounding towns, feel free to send me an e-mail or give me a call.  I am always glad to spend some time with people via a free telephone consultation.

Need an Experienced Lawyer for an Unemployment Hearing Before a Referee In Malvern, King of Prussia, Springfield, Bristol, Reading, Lancaster or Philadelphia?

Click Here if you have questions about any aspect of employment law, from wrongful termination, to wage and overtime claims, to discrimination and retaliation laws, to Family and Medical Leave

Click Here if you have questions about any aspect of Pennsylvania Unemployment Law, from willful misconduct, to voluntary quit, to Referee Hearings, to severance issues

Thanks for checking in with us.

Monday, November 11, 2019

How Do I Request Family and Medical Leave ("FMLA") and Short-Term Disability Benefits?

What are the Requirements for Family and Medical Leave Under the FMLA?

This Sums Up the Circumstances Under Which 
One May be Qualified for FMLA Leave

CLICK HERE for a discussion as to what types of illnesses and injuries are considered "serious health conditions" under FMLA.

The Employer Must Have 50 or More Employees Working Within 75 Miles of Your Work Location

In short order, the first thing that must be determined is whether my employer is required to provide FMLA Leave.  Only employers with 50 or more employees total within a 75-mile radius of your workplace obligated to provide FMLA Leave.  If you work in an office with 300 employees, the calculus is simple.  But, what is you work for a company that has only 15 employees at your workplace location?  The question then is whether, taking into account all other offices of the company located within 75 miles of yours, does the total number of employees exceed 50?

An Incredibly Beneficial Federal Law, but it Can be a Little Tricky!
There are many questions that may arise when you have to consider satellite offices when determining whether you are covered by FMLA; for example, are franchises covered? Are independent contractors covered?  This type of question is best answered by a qualified attorney because, although large employers accept their FMLA obligations, those on the fringes may actively seek to avoid its entanglements via nebulous practices.

An Employee Who Has Worked for a Company for 12 Months or More and Who Works More than 25 Hours Per Week is Entitled to 12 Weeks of FMLA Leave Per 12-Month Period

This is One Statistical Analysis That Seems Reasonable 
For purposes of this overview, the key thing to bear in mind is that your 12 months of employment with the company need not be continuous.  If you worked for the company for 8 months in 2017, rejoined it in 2019 and worked for 5 months, then you have met the 12 month requirement.

CLICK HERE for a discussion of intermittent leave under FMLA.

Short-Term Disability Benefits May Be Available for Employees Who Take FMLA Leave

If you are taking FMLA Leave because of your own injury or illness, than you may be entitled to STD benefits in Pennsylvania if your employer has purchased an insurance policy that provides such benefits to its employees.

If your are taking FMLA Leave to care for a newborn or a loved one, then you will not be entitled to STD benefits because you yourself are not injured or ill.

REMEMBERShort-Term Disability Benefits are paid by a third-party insurance company and have nothing to do with your entitlement to leave from work and reinstatement to your job if you are able to return within 12-weeks of your leave start date.

REMEMBERFMLA Leave is UNPAID; you can use sick pay or vacation pay to supplement your income while out, or STD Benefits if available from your employer.

Do I Have to Put a Request for Family Leave in Writing?

That is undoubtedly the best practice. Use of the words "Family Leave" or "FMLA Leave" in such a request is not essential; employers are required to designate appropriate absences as FMLA-protected when they become aware of the situation.  However, specifying the reason you are seeking leave is a requirement.  Simply saying "I want (or need) time off from work for personal reasons" is not sufficient notice to your employer under the law.

Assisting With FMLA Issues Since 1991

FMLA Lawyer in Malvern, Pennsylvania

Chester County Family and Medical Leave Law Firm

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Size Doesn't Matter: SCOTUS Rules Even the Smallest Local Government Offices May Be Sued For Age Discrimination

The U.S. Supreme Court Holds That Local Municipal Government With Less Than 20 Employees May be Subject to Liability Under ADEA 

(Fr. L-R) Breyer, Thomas, Roberts (CJ), Ginsberg, Alito,
(Back R-L) Cavanaugh, Kagan, Sotomayer, Gorsuch

ONE:  Where private employers are concerned, Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees.

The ADEA and Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), the latter of which governs minimum wage and overtime,  govern private employers with 20 or more employees.

The City of Brotherly Love Seriously Protects its Workforce!
TWO: There are state (and municipal) discrimination laws patterned after Title VII and ADEA that typically have a lower employee threshold for private employers than do their federal counterparts.  In Pennsylvania, for example, you can sue for discrimination under the Pa. Human Relations Act if your private employer has 4 or more employees.  Similarly, for example, Philadelphia's Fair Practices Ordinance, which extends protection beyond that found to exist in Title VII (i.e. to sexual identity, etc.) applies to employers with 1 or more employees.

THREE:  Many states have minimum wage and overtime laws that govern smaller private employers, as well.  In Pennsylvania, for example, the Pa. Minimum Wage Act, which is more employee-friendly than the FLSA in a number of crucial ways, applies to employers with X o more employees.

FOUR: Title VII applies only to governmental entities with 15 or more employees, as does the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA").  The difference is found in the language contained in the statutes.  ADEA is patterned after FLSA, and hence covers all govermental bodies, as discussed below.  Title VII has different, more limiting language and the ADA was patterned after Title VII and hence, the 15 employee proviso remains in tact for private and public employees under those laws.

SYNOPSIS:  If you work for a private or governmental employer, you can sue under ADEA (for age discrimination) and FLSA (for overtimeno matter how small the office is.

Filing a Charge of Discrimination or Retaliation is Still Required if You Want to Pursue a Claim Under Title VII
Even if You Work for a Governmental Employer  
But, whether your a private or public employee, you can sue under Title VII (protecting against discrimination based upon sex, race, color, religion and national origin) and ADA (protecting against disability discriminationonly of the employer has 15 or more employees.

How to File a Discrimination Charge With EEOC, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission or the Philadelphia Commission of Human Relations

What are the Differences between State and Federal Anti-Discrimination Laws in Pennsylvania?

In Mount Lemmon Fire District v. Guido, the plaintiffs sought to sue their employer, a small municipal fire company in Arizona, for age discrimination. Although initially Title VII, the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA") and its legislative "descendant," ADEA, applied only to private employers, by 1974 all three were amended to include governmental employers as well.  When the FLSA was amended, it specified that it governs all governmental offices, regardless of size.  The ADEA amendment did not include this proviso.

Fast forward 45 years!

In a unanimous decision (Justice Kavanaugh was not involved) authored by Justice Ginsberg and issued on November 6, 2018, the Court held that all government offices, regardless of size, are subject to the strictures of the ADEA and may be sued by employees alleging a violation thereunder.

Click if you are wondering Am I an Exempt or Non-Exempt Employee Entitled to Overtime?

Representing Pennsylvania's Workforce Since 1991
Discrimination Lawyer in Malvern

Retaliation Attorney Serving Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Bucks County

Philadelphia Area Discrimination, Harassment and Wrongful Termination Lawyer

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Am I Entitled to Severance Pay in Pennsylvania?

Neither Local, State nor Federal Laws Require the Payment of  Severance Pay

No Government Requires Private Employers to Pay Severance

So, that is a pretty simple, clear statement that requires no further elaboration!

That alone does not mean you are not entitled to severance pay.

NOTE: Click HERE to read an in-depth discussion on the issues arising when severance offers are tied to non-compete restrictions (it's got Videos and everything!).

If the Company has a Written Severance Policy, it Must be Followed

Check your Handbook and/or other written company policies and see if there is one discussing severance pay.  If such a written policy exists, it must be followed.

Many large employers have ERISA-based benefit plans, which may include provisions for the payment of severance.  If your employer has such a plan, then you need to search for the Summary Plan Description ("SPD"), which is usually available on the company portal, and which will explain what benefits are provided under the plan (including severance, potentially), and under what terms. Ask HR for a copy of the SPD if you cannot find it on your own.

If the Company has an Established Practice of Paying Severance Policy, it Must be Followed

The problem here is finding out if such a practice exists and, if it does, what is it?  Almost every severance payment is accompanied by a written Separation Agreement, which among other things requires the employee to keep the terms of the severance confidential.

So, even employees who are aware of the company's past practice of paying severance rarely have true knowledge concerning what that practice is (i.e. 1 week per year, one month per year, etc.), and must rely upon what the company tells them the practice is....

Click HERE to unlock all of the secrets of severance negotiations!

If You Have an Employment Contract Providing for Severance, You Must be Aware of the Circumstances Under Which Severance Will be Paid

No Severance if You Quit or Are Fired "For Cause"
Employment contracts containing severance payment covenants almost always condition the payment of severance upon circumstances relating to the employee's departure, as follows:

*  Layoff , reorganization or reduction in force:  severance paid.

*  Voluntary quite: no severance paid.

*  Commit a felony, etc.:  no severance paid

*  Termination "for cause:"  no severance paid.

It is of course the last of these categories that creates the greatest discord.  A company that wants to part ways with an employee due to poor working relationships, management style, poor productivity of the employee's subordinates, etc., will often attempt to fabricate a "for cause" reason for separation with the express intent of not paying severance.

How Does Severance Pay Effect My Right to Unemployment in Pennsylvania?

My Employer Won't Pay Me Severance Because it Wrongfully Claims I Engaged in Willful Misconduct or "For Cause" Behavior - What Are My Options

Does Not Get Involved in Private Severance Disputes
 Whether your severance rights arise by virtue of policy, practice or contract, severance is often denied on the grounds that the employee was "terminated for cause," which is almost always a basis for denying severance if true.

Much could be said on this issue, but there are established, creative legal approaches to this common dilemma, and it is best to seek out legal counsel experienced with such situations to develop the best strategy to emerge victorious (either in whole or in part!).

Negotiating Severance in Pennsylvania Since 1991
Malvern, Pennsylvania Severance Lawyer

Chester County Lawyer to Negotiate Severance for Employees

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

I am Being Offered Severance But Asked to Sign a Non-Compete - What Should I Do?

Is a 3-month Severance Worth a 2-year Non-Compete?

This is a very serious question, indeed.

"If You Take the Money, You DARN Sure Should Know We'll be Watching You Like a Hawk!"
If you do not already have a non-compete, and wish to continue working in the same industry, you need to think VERY carefully about this.

If you do already have a non-compete, and are being asked to "bless" that agreement in a severance document, you must understand that you are increasing the potential enforceability of the non-compete restrictions by signing the severance contract (not to mention increasing the anger level of your former level when it finds out you took the money and ran into the arms of its arch competitor!).

I discussed all of the issues relating to this common problem HERE (it's got Videos and everything!).

Free Telephone Consultation 610-647-5027
 Severance Lawyer in Malvern, Chester County

Need a Non-Compete Lawyer near Exton, Paoli, Downingtown, Newtown Square, King of Prussia, West Chester, Media, Wayne and Villanova convenient to Rte. 202, Rte. 401, Rte. 29 or Rte 30?

Are Customer Names and Contacts Trade Secrets in Pennsylvania?

What is a Trade Secret In Pennsylvania?

True trade secrets are rare, and the average Jane understands a trade secret when she sees one.  For example, the formula for Coca Cola is a trade secret (and indeed, one of the foremost trade secrets in the world!)

Wouldn't Fanta Love to Know?!
The 11 herbs and spices used Kentucky Fried Chicken's recipe has been closely guarded for years!

Yet Falling Far Behind in the Chicken Sandwich Wars of 2019!
I am certain that the Google algorithms are closely protected secrets as well!

Has Anything So Pervasive and Powerful Ever Been So Secret?
On the other hand, if you work for a company that sells commercial grade doors, windows, alarm systems or furniture, the names of the clients who purchase from the company are not "trade secrets."  All of the clients are known to the public generally (even if the public does not know where they get their furniture), and determining potential customers to purchase such items is as easy as driving down the street, or going online.  As for the name of the contact person who makes decisions about whether to buy those items, he/she is generally in purchasing or facility management!

As far as the contact information for such contact persons, it is often available on line.  Or, if you remember their name (but not their direct dial, cell or e-mail), just look up the company, place a call, and ask the contact person (who knows you anyway) to provide the information.

It is that easy.

What is the Difference Between a Company's Trade Secrets and its Confidential Information?

There is a difference Between Trade Secrets and Confidential Information
The fact is, relatively few companies have any trade secrets at all, because trade secrets are generally formulas, recipes, technology and designs that are absolutely recognized as "cutting edge."  Such trade secrets are closely guarded - put in a proverbial (and sometimes literal) vault, the combination to which is known to a few scant human beings.

But that does not mean you should feel comfortable pillaging all of the company's  pricing, contract and client information on the way out the door.  that would be a breach of your duty of loyalty and good faith to your employer, and can land you in hot water (companies almost always check recent on-line activity (i.e. the digital footprints left behind) of employees who resign, and often of those terminated.

Moreover, you do not need to take that information to gain a competitive edge!

Consider, for example, contracts between your current or former employer and its customers. First, under no circumstances should you take them with you when you leave! Those contracts are rarely trade secrets, but they do constitute "confidential information."  And, why do you need the contracts?  You know how to reach the right contact person, and you have a relationship with them.  Simply get them on the phone, tell them you want to bid a project and ask them to send the most recent contract they have on same so you can bid competitively. That is, if you do not remember the terms yourself....

It is that simple.

Call for a Free Phone Consultation - 610-647-5027
Click Here to read about Non-Compete Agreements

Click Here to read about Non-Solicitation Agreements

Non-Compete Law Firm Serving Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Bucks, Berks and Philadelphia Counties, including Malvern, Exton, Paoli, Berwyn, Wayne, King of Prussia, Downingtown, Lansdale, Broomall, Springfield, Oaks, Royersford, Pottstown, Newtown Square, Doylestown, Chalfont, Lower Gwynedd, West Chester, Media, Reading and Center City

Friday, October 25, 2019

62% of Women in Chester County Have Experienced or Witnessed Sexual Harassment at Work

Findings of Survey Concerning Sexual Harassment at Work in Chester County

Recently, the West Chester Daily Local featured the #ChescoKnowsSummit, which was held in response to survey findings on workplace sexual harassment.  As the article explained:

As a direct response to survey findings on workplace sexual harassment in Chester County, the Chester County Women’s Commission (CCWC) and Chester County Fund for Women and Girls (CCFWG) recently hosted a public #ChescoKnows Summit at Penn State Great Valley.
An enthusiastic crowd of more than 150 community leaders and employees who work in Chester County gathered to empower the sexual harassment and assault awareness movement on a local level. The purpose of the summit was to present survey results in more detail and explore ways all key partners can work together to address sexual harassment in Chester County workplaces.

Here are some revealing facts gleaned from the survey:
·       62% of respondents reported witnessing or experiencing sexual harassment during their career
·       20% have directly experienced sexual harassment from a co-worker, client or contractor while at work
It is important to understand that there is no such thing as a Civil Complaint Police Department.”  There is no “911” to call if you are experiencing sexual harassment.  There is, in fact, on your company’s HR department, state and federal agencies such as the EEOC and private attorneys
However, for serious workplace incidents and/or domestic-related trauma, here are some hotlines:
·      Crime Victims’ Center of Chester County (610-692-7273)
·      the Domestic Violence Center of Chester County (610-431-1430) 
Representing Pennsylvania's Workforce Since 1991
Need an Attorney to Stand With You on a Sexual Harassment Complaint in Chester County?

Personally, I think the numbers in the survey are low.  maybe many of those surveyed worked in very small companies, where the percentage of harassment is lower (fewer men, more spacial intimacy leads to less room to "hide" or harass in secret, etc.). 

In any event, many workers do not really trust HR to have their back, and for good reason, I believe - HR is concerned with the bosses who decide their raise and their future employment more than they are with employees, whom they often feel are "subordinate" to them and "too sensitive." After all, any HR person who consistently, vigorously supports the employees over management won't be employed for long!

So, if you want to stand up for yourself (don't we all!), it may be a good idea to get guidance from an experienced attorney who understands all of the laws of sexual harassment, and has developed the best strategies for how to pursue your rights, where appropriate.

Representing Pennsylvania's Workforce Since 1991
Click Here if you have questions about any aspect of employment law, from wrongful termination, to wage and overtime claims, to discrimination and retaliation laws, to Family and Medical Leave

Sunday, September 8, 2019

What is an "At Fault" or "Fraud" Overpayment Under Pennsylvania Unemployment Law

Why Have I Received Notice of an At Fault Overpayment from Pa Unemployment?

You Don Not Have to Pay
Just Because You Allegedly "Lied"
The two most common reasons for at at fault overpayment are as follows:

1) when you initially applied for benefits you said your separation was due to lay off or reduction in force and the employer, having been notified of your application, stated that it was a termination or a quit; or,

2) having been deemed eligible for unemployment benefits, you thereafter, while receiving benefits, took work as on a 1099 basis, did not tell unemployment it was 1099 work and have therefore been deemed to be self-employed, no longer eligible for benefits and guilty of "lying" to unemployment about your new "career" while continuing to receive benefits.

The Service Center's Initial Determination
is NOT the End of the Story

How Can I Win an Unemployment Overpayment Referee Hearing in Pennsylvania? 

Martha Stewart was jailed not for insider trading but, rather, because she lied to the SEC during its investigation into whether she was guilty of such a crime.  In Pennsylvania, you are not automatically guilty of an overpayment even if you lied or withheld information intentionally or accidentally. Instead, if you win on the "underlying" issue before the Referee, the overpayment goes away.

Win at the Referee Hearing and Win the Day!
Consider these common examples:

Employee One is fired but claims she was laid off.  She initially gets benefits for 6 weeks (everyone who says they were laid off immediately begins getting benefits pending any investigation), but the Service Center believes the employer's claim that she was filed for "willful misconduct."  She gets two Notices of Determination, one saying she is ineligible for benefits because she was fired for misconduct, and the other saying she has to pay back the 6 weeks of benefits she falsely received, with penalties (ouch!!!).

Employee One (who really should consider hiring counsel in this scenario) goes to Referee Hearing and wins because employer unable to prove she engaged in willful misconduct.  Her eligibility for benefits is reinstated, and the overpayment determination evaporates.  Poof!

Employee Two is laid off, and thus begins getting benefits immediately.  He then agrees to do some intermittent 1099 work for a company that tells him when, where and how he should do the work in question.  He reports the wages he receives when he gets his first check (a month after he started doing the work), but does not indicate that he is "self-employed," because he is not.

Months later, after he has reported more such wages, unemployment investigates (suspicion being caused by the absence of any reported w-2 wages), finds out he was being paid 1099 (because he admits it on the phone), stops his benefits and sends him a determination saying he has to pay back all 5 months of benefits he received, with penalties (yikes!!!).

Employee Two (who really should consider hiring counsel in this scenario) goes to Referee Hearing and proves he is neither self-employed (he has no company, no website, rents no space, has no business cards, has no employees, etc.) or an independent contractor (since the employer controls everything he does in most respects.  Since proof of either would be enough to escape the jam, he wins, his benefits are reinstated and his "overpayment" is extinguished.  Abra cadabra!

Chester County Unemployment Attorney Representing Employees at Referee Hearings

John A. Gallagher is an employment lawyer who represents employees in Pennsylvania. 

John typically represents workers who need an employment lawyer in Philadelphia County, Chester County, Delaware County, Bucks County, Berks County, Lancaster County and Montgomery County.

Pennsylvania Unemployment Employment Attorney Provides Free Telephone Consultations (15 Minutes in Duration)

If you are looking for an unemployment lawyer, and live in Malvern, Paoli, Exton, Downingtown, West Chester, King of Prussia, Glenside, Bristol, Radnor, Newtown Square, Broomall, Philadelphia, Media, Skippack, Langhorne, Haverford, Nether Providence, Oaks, Royersford, Drexel Hill, Reading or any of their surrounding towns, feel free to send me an e-mail or give me a call.  I am always glad to spend some time with people via a free telephone consultation.

Need an Experienced Lawyer for an Unemployment Hearing Before a Referee In King of Prussia, Philadelphia, Springfield, Bristol, Reading or Lancaster?

Click Here if you have questions about any aspect of employment law, from wrongful termination, to wage and overtime claims, to discrimination and retaliation laws, to Family and Medical Leave

Click Here if you have questions about any aspect of Pennsylvania Unemployment Law, from willful misconduct, to voluntary quit, to Referee Hearings, to severance issues

Click Here to e-mail John directly; Mr. Gallagher has handled hundreds of Referee Hearings throughout Pennsylvania.

Thanks for checking in with us.

Friday, September 6, 2019


How the Federal Court Operates in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

The Mysteries of the Judiciary Revealed!
Recently, I attended an excellent Seminar put on by the Philadelphia Bar Association that featured a number of jurists who sit on the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Third Circuit.  We heard from Magistrates, Trial Judges and Appellate Judges on numerous “hot button issues.”  As is the custom, the Panel released statistics disclosing the percentage of cases that reach trial, and those relating to successful appeals.  

What is the Difference Between a Civil and Criminal Case?

The largest difference between civil and criminal cases is that crimes are considered offenses against the state or society as a whole, not individuals. In civil cases, defendants are usually up against individuals or individual companies, groups, etc . Punishments between the two are different, as well as the standards of evidence: civil cases usually require proof “by a preponderance of the evidence (i.e. 51%), whereas criminal cases must often be proved “beyond a reasonable doubt”.

Criminal cases are almost always allowed a trial by jury, and defendants are entitled to an attorney under the Sixth Amendment. Civil cases do not necessarily allow a trial by jury, and if a defendant cannot afford an attorney, they must represent their own case.

How Many Civil Cases are Filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania?


Office 2
Office 5
Total Filings
8,513 | 89.7%
981 | 10.3%
7,105 | 86.6%
1,104 | 13.4%
6,101 | 85.3%
1,052 | 14.7%
5,741 | 84.6%
1,048 | 15.4%
1964 | 84.2%
369 | 15.8%

Overall, the civil case filings in both Philadelphia and Allentown/Reading have gone down in the last 4 years. Because Philadelphia’s civil case rate has been dropping more drastically, the percentage of civil filings that take place in Office 5 have gone up 5.5% since 2015. Despite this, the overall number of filings in both continues to go down.

What is the Difference Between District Judges and Magistrates?

What is the Difference Between a Trial by Jury and a Trial by Bench?

Trials by jury, as the name suggests, are trials where the verdict is partially decided by a group of jurors. They are usually 12 randomly selected citizens who are talked through the process by the judge and meet together to discuss the outcome of the trial. Trials by jury are more common in criminal cases. Trial by bench is when a trial is decided strictly by the judge or magistrate involved in the case. They are also usually less complex than trials by jury, and can oftentimes be slightly less formal.

Soon, I will provide additional content concerning other interesting information provided during the seminar.

Questions? Call 610-647-5027 for a Free Telephone Consultation

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

March 2019 Unemployment Rates for Philadelphia and Surrounding Counties Lowest in Years

Unemployment Rate in Chester County, Pennsylvania is the Lowest in the State

Philadelphia's Three Bedroom Counties Enjoying Historically Low Unemployment Rates
Chester County Has the Lowest Rate of Unemployment in Pennsylvania

According to an article published by the Philadelphia Inquirer last week, the unemployment rate in Chester County, Pennsylvania is so low that some industries are unable to keep up with their labor demands. Right now, the unemployment rate sits at 2.6 percent: the lowest in the state.

Some Industries in the Chester County Area Face a Labor Shortage.

The chief executive of the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry told the Philadelphia Inquirer that for every one person looking for a job, two or three are available. There were 25,532 online job postings for Chester County in April, according to the Department of Community Development. This is consistent with the usual yearly trend of job postings going up in April, and when considering the current unemployment rate, it is no surprise that there are labor shortages.

How is Unemployment Defined?

Not everyone without a job is considered “unemployed”. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment is defined as people who do not have a job, have looked for a job within the last 4 weeks, and are available for work. People who have been laid off and are waiting to be called back are included in unemployment statistics.

How do the Unemployment Rates of Other Philadelphia Suburban Counties Compare to that of Chester County?

Chester County is not the only county in the Philadelphia area whose unemployment rate has dropped steadily over the last few years.

Since 2017, the rate in Pennsylvania as a whole has gone down by 0.8 percent

What is the Unemployment Rate in Montgomery County, PA?

In Montgomery County, which currently has an unemployment rate of 3 percent, it has gone down by 0.9 percent. 

What is the Unemployment Rate in Delaware County, PA?

What is the Unemployment Rate in Bucks County, PA?

In Bucks County, it has gone down by a full 1 percent, and now sits at 3.4 percent. Even in the city it has gone down: between 2017 and 2019, the Philadelphia County’s unemployment rate has dropped 1.6 percent, leaving it at 4.6 percent.
In fact, all eleven Philadelphia area counties have lower unemployment rates now than they did in 2017. During the month of March alone, over 10,000 people went from being unemployed to employed in the state of Pennsylvania.

Despite this, some Pennsylvanians - particularly those in Philadelphia - believe that the availability of jobs is not enough. Many people are of the opinion that the ability to get a job is useless if it does not pay enough to make a living, which is often the case in the city.

What Industries are Seeking Workers in Chester County?

While there are opportunities in nearly every industry right now - nursing, technology, customer service, financing, etc. - the agriculture and transportation industries have the most open positions.

Kennett Square’s Phillip Mushroom Farms alone is seeking 30-40 more people, namely harvesters. It is not a job that requires much education or previous experience, so it is accessible to nearly everyone looking for a full time position.

The transportation is similarly searching for full time workers. It is also another industry with on-the-job training and only lower education requirements. There were nearly 4,000 postings in April related to the industry, however, with the rise of online shopping, truck driving has gone down in popularity.

Vanguard's Main Office in Malvern PA
The Vanguard Company Inc., an investment company with its headquarters in Malvern (Chester County), is also one of the hiring powerhouses in the Philadelphia suburbs. As of July 2019, the company had over 300 positions open when the Inquirer article was written, ranging from entry level to supervisory positions.

John A. Gallagher, Esquire
has been Representing Pennsylvania's Workforce since 1991
Philadelphia Area Unemployment Lawyer Representing Employees 
                       in Unemployment Referee Hearings

John A. Gallagher is an employment lawyer who represents claimants in Pennsylvania. 

John typically represents workers who need an employment lawyer in Philadelphia County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Bucks County, Chester County, Berks County and Lancaster County.

Pennsylvania Unemployment Employment Attorney Provides Free Telephone Consultations (15 Minutes in Duration)

If you are looking for an unemployment lawyer, and live in Paoli, Exton, Frazer, Phoenixville, Downingtown, Coatesville, West Chester, Newtown Square, Nether Providence, Springfield, Aston, Broomall, Marple, Villanova, Lansdowne, Wayne, Ardmore, Bryn Mawr, Glenolden, Havertown, Haverford, Limerick, Oaks, Lansdale, Chalfont, Lower Merion or any of their surrounding towns, feel free to send me an e-mail or give me a call.  I am always glad to spend some time with people via a free telephone consultation.

Need an Experienced Lawyer for an Unemployment Hearing Before a Referee In Malvern, King of Prussia, Springfield, Bristol, Reading, Lancaster or Philadelphia?

Click Here if you have questions about any aspect of employment law, from wrongful termination, to wage and overtime claims, to discrimination and retaliation laws, to Family and Medical Leave

Click Here if you have questions about any aspect of Pennsylvania Unemployment Law, from willful misconduct, to voluntary quit, to Referee Hearings, to severance issues

Click Here to e-mail John directly; Mr. Gallagher has handled hundreds of Referee Hearings throughout Pennsylvania.