Employee Discipline: Pennsylvania
Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.
Author: Christin Choi, Fisher Phillips
- If an employer becomes aware of an employee's misconduct or poor performance, the employer should take appropriate steps to respond to and address the behavior. See Employee Discipline.
- Employers should regularly review their handbooks, statements of policy and contracts to ensure that they contain the appropriate disclaimers and are compliant with any updates to local, state and federal laws. See Setting Expectations for Workplace Conduct.
- The protections of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act extend to employee discipline. See The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.
- Employers should also review and comply with local ordinances before implementing disciplinary measures. See Local Ordinances.
- Employers - particularly supervisors - should avoid discussing any actions, misconduct, investigations or discipline within the organization, other than on a need-to-know basis. See Investigating Employee Behavior.
- Pennsylvania law prohibits employers from requiring an employee to take a polygraph test or any form of a mechanical or electronic lie detector test as a condition for employment or continuation of employment. See Investigating Employee Behavior; Polygraph and Lie Detector Tests.
- Pennsylvania courts have recognized various claims with respect to employee drug and alcohol testing. See Testing Employees for Drug and Alcohol Use.
- Pennsylvania law generally prohibits smoking in workplaces. See Smoking in the Workplace.
- Pennsylvania law generally prohibits electronic surveillance or interception, including recording, of any wire, electronic or oral communication, unless both parties to the communication consent to the interception. See Investigating Employee Behavior; Pennsylvania Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Control Act.
- Pennsylvania law requires certain current employees and contractors in public and private schools to disclose convictions relating to violent crimes, sexual assault, stalking, kidnapping, crimes against children or any felony drug crime. See Investigating Employee Behavior; Arrests or Convictions of School Employees.
- Employers should be cautious of the risk that employees who are required to participate in investigatory meetings or disciplinary meetings may later raise a claim of false imprisonment. See Considerations for the Disciplinary Process; False Imprisonment.
- Employers should proceed with caution prior to imposing discipline for an employee's lawful off-duty conduct. See Considerations for the Disciplinary Process; Off-Duty Conduct.
- Employers should proceed with caution prior to imposing discipline based on information gathered from an employee's social networking website. See Considerations for the Disciplinary Process; Social Media.
- Employers should also be aware that additional restrictions may preclude or limit an employer from disciplining or taking adverse action against an employee. See Specific Discipline Situations.