Karl Heideck Explains Philadelphia’s Newest Employment Law

Workers’ rights advocates were happy the day that Mayor Kenney signed a new law that halts the practice of asking new employees to list their work histories. This means that Philadelphia is the first city in the country to enact this type of law in the private sector.

As may have been expected, not everyone was in favor of the changes. The law was set to be enforced, but the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia took the matter to court because of the laws’ supposed unconstitutionality.

What Is in the Law?

The Society for Human Resource Management explained what is required by the law. According to the Society, legislators wrote the law as they did to close the gap between what men and women are paid. For example, the law states that employers must not consider job salary data acquired from an independent source without the job candidate’s permission.

Furthermore, employers may not directly ask potential employees how much money they were paid on previous jobs. They are also prohibited from requiring a candidate to inform them of his or her past salary history before an offer of employment will be made. Lastly, they are not allowed to punish an individual who does not provide them with his or her salary history.

Who Is Affected by this Law?

Some people have stated that employers whose headquarters exist outside of Philadelphia will be affected by this law. Every business owner in Philadelphia is subject to the law even if third parties are the ones who are performing the prohibited actions. Anyone who violates the ordinance will receive a fine of $2,000 per occurrence.

What Are the Setbacks?

Of course, voices rose up in opposition before the law was even passed. One company that suggested it would file a lawsuit against the city was Comcast Communications. This company stated that the law violated its First Amendment rights, and other companies have said that complying with the ordinance would be too burdensome.

The Chamber of Commerce also weighed in on this subject, and it filed a district court motion that sought a preliminary injunction. Since this occurred a little less than two months before the law was to go into effect, it was unclear whether or not the law would be enacted on time.

Because of the Chamber of Commerce’s filing, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania court made a determination to stay the law. Those in favor of the law thought that this ruling meant that employees’ rights would suffer in future disputes. In fact, this ruling was considered to be a catastrophic blow.

In June, Philadelphia filed a motion in court to dismiss the lawsuit because it did not state how business owners would be injured because of the law. Since the original complaint did not specify how the Chamber of Commerce’s members would be injured by the law, the district court agreed with the city.

Why this Ruling Made Sense

The Chamber of Commerce created a situation where the court could not respond to its filing because it did not identify any businesses that would be impacted negatively by the law. It doesn’t matter at this point whether the identifications would have led to an alteration of the law. The fact that the city was willing to listen to the concerns of the other side by agreeing to delay the ordinance may have helped the court decide on this matter.

It’s possible that there could be future challenges to this law. The court did allow the Chamber of Commerce to alter the complaint.

The Future for the Law

The Chamber of Commerce may never modify its complaint, but some business owners might decide to defy the ordinance. For example, the tools that real estate websites use to determine the prices of properties are extremely accurate these days. Because of this, employers can estimate how much a candidate must earn based on the area in which the person lives. Employers will not be able to ask ex-employers how much he or she paid a candidate, but Human Resources could compile monetary data garnered from public sources. Anyone who does these types of things may find new legislation on the books or even have penalties levied against them.

Every employer is not fighting this law tooth and nail. Some people are in favor of wage equity between males and females that the law wants to encourage, and they will support it. These employers will need to find new ways to comply with the law, and one way of doing this would be to modify their onboard training, interviewer scripts and job application forms.

Philadelphia is unique because it is the first to put a wage equity law on the books, but it will not be the last to do so. Employers are already starting to forgo asking about a candidate’s salary history, and states such as California, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. are writing wage equity legislation now. Companies that have questions about the various state and federal employment laws need to consult with a compliance specialist to ensure that they are following all of the rules.

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About Karl Heideck

Karl Heideck became a contract attorney for Hire Counsel in 2015. Before he joined Hire Counsel, he gained experience practicing law in the Greater Philadelphia area. During that time, he was a project attorney and spent the years filing complaints and responding to them as well. Currently, Karl Heideck offers compliance consulting and risk advisement services. He is also involved in employment proceedings, product liability and corporate law.

Karl Heideck graduated from Swarthmore College in 2003 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Literature. In 2009, he received his Juris Doctor with honors from Temple University’s James E. Beasley School of Law.

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Some of Pennsylvania’s Weirdest Laws, According to Karl Heideck

Most legal topics pertain to highly serious matters, but a few exceptions exist. For instance, people often enjoy reading about the strange laws that legislators have enacted in various states. Pennsylvania has its share of odd rules. They regulate activities ranging from paintball fights to fishing. If you need some entertainment or want to make sure that you don’t break one of these strange laws, you’ve come to the right place.

Marriage

A couple of weird rules govern weddings performed in the Keystone State. One law prohibits the public from firing cannons, guns or similar weapons during these events. Another statute only applies to ministers. It bars them from helping inebriated people become married. Perhaps this rule could bring into question the legal validity of a drunken partner’s marriage vows.

Parenting

If they have law-abiding parents, Pennsylvanian children needn’t worry about walking long distances to the bathroom at night. A law states that lavatories must be located within 200 feet of youngsters’ bedrooms. Kids need access to nearby shower stalls or bathtubs as well. Nevertheless, a number of exceptions apply. People with travel trailers or other mobile housing may not need to follow this rule.

Beverages

If you want to buy hard liquor in Pennsylvania, state law only allows you to purchase it from a government-run store. The Liquor Control Board’s website lets visitors search for the nearest Wine and Spirits shop. Approximately 600 of these stores exist throughout the state. In 2016, an updated law permitted private restaurants and supermarkets to begin selling wine. It also enabled convenience stores to offer beer.

Paintballs

Be careful when you aim your paintball gun in Pennsylvania. A law forbids people from shooting at anyone who isn’t engaged in the sport. The state also maintains a few other rules involving this game. One law seeks to punish any paintball enthusiast who damages someone else’s property. Another rule describes acceptable ways to carry a paintball gun in a car or truck.

Hunting

If you prefer bullets to paintballs, you’ll need to follow a different set of peculiar laws. For example, the state government doesn’t allow people to hunt animals in graveyards. Another statute only pertains to relatively large beasts. It prohibits hunters from targeting these animals while they swim. If deer could read Pennsylvania’s laws, they’d probably gather in cemeteries near streams.

Fishing

Anglers also face a few unusual rules. When you run out of bait, think twice before reaching into the aquarium. Pennsylvania’s Fish and Boat Code stipulates that no one may use goldfish, koi, common carp or comets as bait. This rule went into effect in September 2000. Another law lists illegal fishing techniques; don’t let the police find any dynamite in your tackle box!

Local Laws

Several weird rules only exist in certain cities. For instance, Pittsburgh bans trolley passengers from transporting mules or donkeys. It’s not clear how this rule came to be, but the story may have involved some indignant trolley riders and a farmer with livestock. Morrisville, Pa. still has a law requiring women to gain permits before they apply cosmetics.

Some people claim that other strange statutes exist in the Keystone State. However, it’s hard to determine if they truly remain in effect. They include rules against sweeping dust under a rug or sleeping on a refrigerator while outdoors. It’s even possible that Pennsylvania barred anyone who has engaged in a duel from serving as governor.

Keep Reading – The Attorney Behind the Curtain: Karl Heideck

About Karl Heideck

Karl Heideck breaks down some of PA's strangest laws
Karl Heideck breaks down some of PA’s strangest laws

Before he started working as a lawyer, Karl Heideck underwent extensive education. He enrolled in Swarthmore College and successfully obtained a bachelor’s degree. Heideck primarily attended literature and English classes. Six years later, he finished earning a law degree from Temple University. The aspiring attorney received impressive grades while studying at Temple’s Beasley School of Law.

Karl Heideck has worked in and around Philadelphia during the last seven years. After becoming an associate at the Conrad O’Brien law firm in 2010, he served a variety of businesses and individuals. This experience helped him become a proficient litigator. Heideck performed both pre- and post-trial tasks. He eventually left Conrad O’Brien and began working as a project lawyer at Pepper Hamilton LLP.

Heideck has expertise in numerous areas. They include merchandise liability, corporate litigation, research, employment law, risk management and writing. He authored an online guide that explains how small companies can follow the Keystone State’s employment rules. Heideck strives to help business executives understand and comply with intricate government regulations. He also wrote about the best way to become an attorney.

Karl Heideck currently works as a Hire Counsel contract lawyer. He represents Pennsylvanians who face business-related legal action. The skillful attorney persistently works to ensure that each client achieves the best possible outcome. He provides expert consultations on risk management and regulatory compliance as well. Heideck also continues to write blog entries about various law-related news and issues.

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Karl Heideck Explains: Effects of the Philadelphia Soda Tax

Karl Heideck’s Guide to Pennsylvania Employment Law for Small Businesses

Career Spotlight: Litigation with Karl Heideck

Karl Heideck Explains: Effects of the Philadelphia Soda Tax

The rates of obesity in America continue to rise, and many public officials are concerned about the consequences this can bring upon society as a whole. Nearly 70% of American adults are either overweight or obese and more than 35% fall into the obese category. Just over 6% of adults in this country are considered extremely obese, and these weight issues are even beginning to trickle down and affect children as young as three years of age.

The implications of overweight and obesity are enormous and impact many areas of life. The healthcare system estimates that millions of tax dollars are spent annually on issues stemming from obesity. It’s clear that we need a solution to this problem. What’s not clear is what that solution should be. Some states have attempted to offset the problems created by obesity by instituting taxes and other penalties on junk food and soda. Philadelphia is one such example, having created a soda tax in the hopes of reducing the rates of obesity and the adverse effects that stem from it.

What is the Philadelphia Soda Tax?

Philadelphia recently became one of the first states to introduce a tax on sugary soft drinks. This tax took full effect early in 2017. What was the idea behind this 1.5 cent per ounce tax on soda and other sugary drinks? Many public officials felt this tax would discourage people from purchasing and consuming as much soda, one of the many calorie laden products that have resulted in health issues such as weight gain. The thought was that those who were unable to afford to pay this tax would simply stop buying these products and those who chose to pay the tax anyway would be contributing financially toward offsetting some of the costs associated with the health problems that can result from consuming these beverages. While from the outside it may appear to have been a lofty idea with good intentions, the results have been far from what was intended when this tax was brought about.

How is the Philadelphia Soda Tax Impacting Society?

Armed with good intentions and many supportive citizens, the Philadelphia soda tax was seen as a solution to a growing problem that affects all of us in various ways. However, some unintended effects have already been seen in the short time this tax has been in existence.

First of all, this tax affects the low-income citizens of Philadelphia on a much larger level than other citizens who can simply afford to pay more for these drinks. As it turns out, low-income individuals are the largest consumers of these types of soft drinks. Low-income residents of Philadelphia without their own mode of transportation have no choice but to shop at local stores and pay this tax if they want to continue drinking these beverages.

This tax is also negatively affecting small mom and pop types of grocery stores. These stores are already competing daily with major chains who have much more capital, more power, and more advertising dollars. Small grocery stores are also now seeing a major reduction of sales and income due to customers traveling further away to do their shopping at stores in areas that have no tax on these soft drinks. When these previous customers opt to do their shopping at another store, they don’t just buy their soda from another location. They buy all of their groceries at another large retailer, leaving these small grocery stores struggling with a lack of sales. The lost income can be so large in some cases that these mom and pop stores have no choice but to close their doors permanently. In just two short months after the soda tax was initiated, one large retailer experienced an increase in sales of 20% while a small business owner experienced a loss of revenue of over 30%. These numbers are large enough to lead to the death of a small business, creating horrible ramifications for that business owner and his family.

Last but not least, it is estimated that this well-intended tax will result in a multi-million dollar deficit for the state overall. According to one financial advisor, both a short and long term deficit will be created due to the fact that government officials have not been calculating this tax based on accurate numbers. Government officials based their projected earnings from this tax to be far too high, which in the coming years will result in a deficit that will have to be made up for in other areas.

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Soft Drink Industry Appeal of the Philadelphia Soda Tax

It should come as no surprise that this tax has also negatively affected the soft drink industry. Canada Dry and Pepsi both reported that their Philadelphia branches had laid off as many as 20% of their employees since this tax came about.

Not surprisingly, the soft drink industries are fighting back and attempting to appeal this tax. The litigation involved in this case has made its way to the Supreme Court in an attempt to stop this tax and the affects that have already been seen from it. Supporters of the tax are calling the appeal disappointing and feel that it takes the focus away from the benefits they believe this tax will have for everyone involved in the long run. The outcome remains to be seen as the two sides continue to struggle and those who can travel continue driving to more distant locations to purchase their soft drinks at a lower price.

Who is Karl Heideck?

Karl Heideck is a successful and dedicated Philadelphia attorney with many years of experience in risk management and compliance related issues. A member of the Hire Council since 2015, Karl Heideck provides personal consulting for both large and small businesses on the topics of compliance, product liability, and risk management. In addition to being a successful lawyer and personal advisor, Karl Heideck also operates an educational blog designed to inform the public on topics relating to changes in public policy and other legal news that affects Philadelphia area residents.

Karl Heideck earned his undergraduate degree from Swarthmore College in 2003 and went on to earn a law degree from Temple University in 2009. For over a decade, he has filled important roles within the legal field and continues to provide his expertise to helping area business owners and residents.

For more information on Karl Heideck and his legal services in Philadelphia, contact him via Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

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Karl Heideck’s Guide to Pennsylvania Employment Law for Small Businesses

Career Spotlight: Litigation with Karl Heideck

Karl Heideck’s Guide to Pennsylvania Employment Law for Small Businesses

Do you operate a Pennsylvania business? There are a few things that you need to keep in mind regarding your workforce. Although labor laws are constantly evolving, it’s critical that you stay ahead of the curve. Here’s how employment regulations influence your compliance obligations and corporate future.

Critical Laws That Impact Pennsylvanian Companies

Employment law has a broad scope that touches on a vast range of practices. Some of the regulations that bind you may be specific to your industry or business model. For instance, if you employ legal minors, or individuals under the age of 18, then you’ll need to adhere to the Pennsylvania Child Labor Law, or CLL.

Other provisions are more broadly applicable regardless who’s in your workforce. Understand these critical rules:

Minimum Wage and Labor Practices: The Fair Labor Standards Act

This law, also known as the FLSA, lays down the rules for when you need to pay your employees minimum wage. It also covers overtime, your tabulation and recording of work hours, and your duty to post FLSA requirements visibly at your premises.

Although the FLSA governs the minimum wage, it’s important to remember that these federal rules don’t override state laws. For instance, as of June 2017, most Pennsylvanian workers who earned minimum wage received the same $7.25 hourly rate that the FLSA set. Since 2016, however, individuals who worked for the state’s government or contractors that bid on state jobs earned $10.15 when making minimum wage. If you’re unsure whether you need to pay federal or state minimum wage, the general rule is to pick the higher of the two.

The Family and Medical Leave Act

Also known as the FMLA, this federal law ensures that eligible employees are allowed to take leave when it’s related to their family or medical needs. During someone’s FMLA leave, you don’t have to pay them, but you can’t penalize them by firing them from their job or cut back their group health insurance eligibility.

Employees covered by the FMLA may take as many as 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year. Valid reasons for taking leave include when workers

  • Need to care for their children, parents or spouses who have serious health problems,
  • Are having a new baby or need to care for one who was born less than a year ago,
  • Are adopting or foster parenting a new child,
  • Can’t perform their job due to their own serious health issues, or
  • Have military spouses, offspring or parents who get injured.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act

Employees are getting older, and employers must afford elderly workers the same rights that they’d grant their younger counterparts. If you fail to do so, you could face discrimination lawsuits or fines.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or ADEA, dates back to 1967. It was originally intended to stop bosses who employ more than 20 people from discriminating against workers above the age of 40. Navigating this law isn’t as simple as determining whether you meet these basic tenets, however. For instance, if you operate a consumer research organization, then you may have a valid reason for restricting certain employment offers based on applicants’ ages or other demographics.

The ADEA applies to government institutions and contractors. As workforces grow progressively older, however, legislators may expand the law to protect more employees.

IRS Worker Classification

Should you withhold income and Social Security taxes from your workers’ paychecks? There’s a big difference between part-timers and independent contractors. Bodies like the IRS apply various rubrics to gauge how much control you exert over your workers and determine whether they should be classified as employees.

It’s critical that you understand these distinctions so that you don’t fall afoul of tax regulations. Also, remember that the federal unemployment taxes, or FUTA, that you must pay the IRS are separate from the sums required by the state’s unemployment contribution law.

Hiring, Harassment and Discrimination: Equal Employment Laws

While the federal Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, or EEOC, may be the first agency you think of when it comes to employment discrimination claims, it’s not the only body with jurisdiction. The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, or PHRC, also fields claims, and the state’s Human Relations Act may mean that you’re subject to anti-discrimination guidelines that the EEOC excludes.

The PHRC typically deals with companies that have between 4 and 14 workers, but the EEOC handles enterprises with at least 15. Both prohibit hiring and employment discrimination based on protected classes, like race, religion, sex, national origin, disability and age.

Situation-specific Laws

In addition to state-level laws, federal legislation and rules that only impact your industry, you may be subject to statutes imposed by your city, county or township. For instance, in 2017, Philadelphia barred employers who do business in the city from asking about new hires’ wage histories.

Employment law is exceedingly complex, but this isn’t an excuse for falling behind. Many small business owners find it helpful to consult with legal experts about their obligations.

More by Karl Heideck:  Career Spotlight: Litigation with Karl Heideck

About Karl Heideck

Karl Heideck is a Philadelphia-based contract attorney who works hard to help businesses do right by their employees. Karl Heideck firmly believes in assisting firms that strive to adhere to the spirit of the law and not just its letter.

Karl Heideck has practiced in various fields of employment and contract law for more than a decade. In addition to coming directly to the aid of companies that would otherwise struggle to master the complex nuances of their regulatory obligations, he routinely contributes to online news sources and blogs by explaining the evolution of Pennsylvanian law and its impact on businesses.

During the time he spent as a Pepper Hamilton LLP project attorney and a Conrad O’Brien associate, Mr. Heideck gained invaluable experience fighting for enterprises and individuals alike. Karl always looks forward to applying his exhaustive knowledge in challenging new cases.

For more information, connect with Karl Heideck on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

Career Spotlight: Litigation with Karl Heideck

While litigation attorneys may represent criminal clients, real estate firms or individuals who are filing personal injury claims, people are usually referring to civil issues when they talk about litigation attorneys. These attorneys prepare cases for trial. However, up to 90% of cases do not go to trial. Most cases are settled out of court. In criminal proceedings, defendants usually take a plea deal. In personal injury, real estate and other civil cases, plaintiffs often accept a settlement.

Life As A Litigation Attorney

Most civil litigation lawyers work for law firms that employ several attorneys. Some may work in boutique firms or have a private practice. Larger law firms usually have litigation departments, and some have sub-departments for business, real estate, patents and other types of law. While the majority of civil litigation attorneys work in the private sector, some work for the government. Most government litigators work in criminal law as prosecutors and district attorneys. However, civil litigators work for municipalities and several U.S. attorneys’ offices.

Some corporations are large enough that they employ their own litigators. Large banks and other financial institutions do the same, and some insurance companies employ their own litigation attorneys as well. Companies with a large staff of attorneys may have several working on a case and one or more senior attorneys supervising them.

Duties Of A Civil Litigator

When a litigation attorney picks up a new case, he or she starts with some investigative work. From collecting documents such as witness statements to collecting medical records or necessary evidence to strengthen the case, the attorney and legal staff work hard to find all relevant details. Once the details are in place, civil litigators contact the legal representative of the other party and try to reach a settlement. If an agreeable settlement is reached before a lawsuit is filed, this saves both sides a considerable amount of money.

If a settlement cannot be reached before a lawsuit is filed, the litigator drafts necessary motions and pleadings to file with the court. A summons will be issued, and the defendant’s attorney must respond. An attorney may file additional motions when necessary. For example, a change of venue may be requested if the attorney feels that it would benefit the case and has a legitimate reason for the request.

The discovery phase happens next, and the litigators from each side exchange important information related to the case. This usually involves the exchange of documents. If there is physical evidence related to the case, they view it. There may be additional filings during this phase. Next, the attorneys prepare for trial. Pretrial conferences, depositions and proceedings take place.

In most cases, a settlement is reached after the pretrial stage. The court does not want to spend money on a trial, and businesses or individuals usually do not want the expense of a trial. If a settlement is not reached, the trial process is hectic. Attorneys work hard around the clock to build the best defense and predict any arguments from the other side to form solid responses. They may have to work with experts in a variety of fields to help strengthen the case, and they must continually examine the details of the case.

When the verdict is reached after all trial dates are completed, there may be an appeal process. If a litigator who was expecting to win loses, he or she typically files an appeal. Any issues that were not properly addressed during the trial must be highlighted. The attorney often rethinks strategies and finds additional ways to strengthen the point or points that were supposed to produce a better outcome. Some critical cases require the help of experts. If a litigation attorney who works for a corporation or other large business feels that the appeals process is out of his or her league, experts may be called in. Appellate litigators with experience in a specific area of law can usually help strengthen the appeal for a more favorable outcome.

Karl Heideck’s Tips For Success

Karl Heideck has always had a desire to see others succeed. He released a guide for new or aspiring litigation attorneys to reach their goals. In the guide, he emphasized the importance of making connections and being kind, humble and honest. He says that making connections and treating them as valuable treasures will be helpful along the way. Successful civil litigators are known for being respectful and helpful to others. Mr. Heideck also says that asking questions is important. This is how most litigation attorneys build their knowledge and success faster. He says that choosing a specialty should always require a great deal of thought, and putting a lot of effort into getting an ideal first associate’s position is also crucial.

For more information, follow Karl Heideck on Twitter.

Who Is Karl Heideck?

Karl Heideck
Who is Karl Heideck?

Karl Heideck is a talented and persistent attorney who specializes in compliance and risk management. He serves the greater Philadelphia area and has experience as a successful litigator.

Mr. Heideck is listed with Hire Council and has been a member since 2015. He provides services such as risk management advising and compliance consulting. His litigation areas of expertise go beyond these to include product liability, corporate law, employment proceedings and commercial litigation. In addition to being a dedicated litigator, adviser and consultant, Mr. Heideck is a talented writer who is devoted to his blog. The purpose of his blog is to explain legal news and changes to the public and especially to Pennsylvania residents.

Mr. Heideck graduated from Swarthmore College with an undergraduate degree in 2003 and earned a law degree from James E. Beasley School of Law at Temple University in 2009. He has been working in related positions in the Philadelphia area for over 10 years. In addition to being an associate at Conrad O’Brien, he worked with Pepper Hamilton LLP. His experiences gave him the skills he uses today to help his clients solve complex legal matters. He was exposed to all steps involved in litigation during his time with Conrad O’Brien.

More by Karl Heideck:
Karl Heideck’s Guide to Pennsylvania Employment Law for Small Businesses

Karl Heideck Explains Philadelphia’s Newest Employment Law

Some of Pennsylvania’s Weirdest Laws, According to Karl Heideck