increased to $7.05 per hour on January 1, 2004.
The law establishing a penalty for failure to pay wages upon termination of employ- ment was amended to limit the penalty wage liability of businesses that primarily sell motor vehicles or farm implements in the case of employees paid on a commission basis where there is a dispute between the employer and the employee regarding the amount of commission due upon the employee’s termination, and where the amount of unpaid commission ultimately found due is less than 20 percent of the amount of unpaid commission claimed by the employee. In these cases, the penalty wage liability of the employer may not ex- ceed the amount of the unpaid commission or $200, whichever is greater. These penalty limitations do not apply if the employer has violated final pay provisions one or more times in the preceding year, or when an em- ployer terminated one or more other employ- ees on the same date that the employee’s employment ceased.
The law relating to the Oregon Youth Conservation Corps was amended to specify that corps members are exempt from the State public works prevailing wage law.
Family issues. Employers of 6 or more per- sons in the State are to provide leave from employment to attend criminal proceedings for eligible employees who have been crime victims or who have an immediate family member who has been a crime victim. The leave may be unpaid; however, paid accrued vacation leave or other paid accrued leave may be used. Reasonable notice is to be given to the employer, and the amount of leave that an employee takes may be limited by the employer if the employee’s absence creates an undue hardship to the employer’s business. An employee is eligible if he or she has worked an average of more than 25 hours per week for a covered employer for at least 180 days immediately before the date that the employee takes leave to attend a criminal proceeding. An employer who denies leave to an employee or who discharges, threatens to discharge, intimidates or coerces an em- ployee because he or she takes this leave commits an unlawful employment practice and is subject to a civil action.
Worker privacy. A law was enacted prohib- iting public bodies (State, local, and special government bodies) from disclosing the iden- tification badge or card of an employee of the public body without the written consent of the employee when the badge or card con- tains the photograph of the employee and it
was prepared solely for internal use by the public body to identify employees of the public body. Additionally, the public body may not disclose a duplicate of the photo- graph on the badge or card.
The Board of Public Safety Standards and Training and the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training may not dis- close a photograph of a public safety of- ficer without the written consent of the of- ficer or his or her employer. A public safety agency is to provide the department with access to personnel records of an employee or former employee of the public service agency if the department requests access to the records; the department is conducting an investigation relating to the employee or former employee’s qualifications for em- ployment, training or certification as a pub- lic safety officer; and the records are related to the issue being investigated. A public safety agency that discloses this informa- tion is presumed to be acting in good faith and, unless lack of good faith is shown by a preponderance of the evidence, is immune from civil liability for the disclosure or its consequences.
Private employment agencies. The act regu- lating employment agencies was amended to specifically exclude employment listing ser- vices from coverage. An employment listing service is defined as a business that provides lists of specified positions available with an employer other than the service or that holds itself out to individuals as able to provide information about specific positions of em- ployment with an employer other than the employment listing service; charges an indi- vidual a fee for its services; and does not arrange interviews or otherwise intercede be- tween an individual and a prospective em- ployer but may offer limited counseling and employment-related services to an individual that includes, but is not limited to, personal grooming and appearance and interview preparation. The Commissioner of the Bu- reau of Labor and Industries is to adopt rules governing terms of contracts and fees charged. The service is to make contract and fee schedule information available to clients.
Other laws. The law governing State militia duty, pay, allowances, and re-employment rights was amended to provide that mem- bers of the organized militia while on active State duty, for reasons including those re- lated to homeland security, will receive not less than the pay and allowances of their corresponding grades of the Armed Forces of the United States. Those members of the organized State militia who are ordered to
active State duty will be considered tempo- rary employees of the military department except that they are not subject to the collec- tive bargaining and arbitration rules and regu- lations that apply to public or private em- ployees within the State. When the employee’s leave of absence for active ser- vice of the State is terminated, the employee is to return to his or her employment within 7 calendar days.
The State law regarding benefits for State employees or public officers while absent on military leave was amended. The State will provide coverage under an employer- sponsored health plan to a public officer or employee of the State for a period not ex- ceeding a total of 12 months while the indi- vidual is absent on leave. This applies both to individuals serving in the United States Armed Forces and to employees who are members of the organized State militia who are called into active service of the State by the Governor. Employers other than the State may provide such coverage. The posi- tion of an employee serving in the United States armed services will not become va- cant nor shall the officer or employee be sub- ject to removal as a consequence of such ser- vice unless it exceeds 5 years.
Wages. A resolution was adopted designat- ing April 15, 2003, as “Equal Pay Day” in Pennsylvania and encouraging all residents to support and maintain pay equity through- out the Commonwealth.
Equal employment opportunity. An Execu- tive order was issued barring State agencies from discriminating against employees based on their gender identity, adding transgendered people to the list of those rights are protected. The order adds “gen- der identity or expression” to the list that also includes race, color, religious creed, an- cestry, union membership, age, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, AIDS or HIV status, or disability.
An Executive order was issued reestab- lishing the Pennsylvania Commission for Women. Duties and functions of the com- mission include monitoring women’s educa- tional and employment needs and opportu- nities; promoting job training, educational programs and upward mobility for women; encouraging the development of and access to funding for small business enterprises owned or operated by women; issuing peri- odic reports on new State laws, regulations and governmental policies affecting women; serving as a liaison between government and nongovernmental groups and organizations
Monthly Labor Review