Answers to Common Legal Questions
We realize laws and regulations can be daunting to understand. Here are
answers to some of the frequently asked questions we hear from clients.
Q: What laws regulate the wages and hours in a long term care
A: The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the main
federal law governing minimum wage and overtime. It applies to most private
employers. Pennsylvania employers must also comply with the overtime
requirements of Pennsylvania's Minimum Wage Act. Although the Pennsylvania act
is similar to the FLSA, there are differences with regard to the methodology
for calculating overtime (40 hours per week under both laws, however the FLSA
grants an exception for long term care facilities to utilize the 8/80 method
whereby the PA law does not). There have been a number of lawsuits brought by
employees over these differences. Employers should be aware of the differences,
and model their policies and procedures accordingly.
Q: What laws must employers follow when hiring new
A: A prospective employer must avoid any illegal
discrimination based on race, national origin, gender, pregnancy, age,
disability, religion or other characteristic protected by law during the hiring
process. In certain jurisdictions, local ordinances may also be applicable
which expand upon the number of protected classes. For example, recent ìban the
boxî ordinances prohibit an employer from asking questions about criminal
convictions during the application process or during the first
Q: Can employers monitor their employees' emails or access to social
A: Employers may monitor web sites visited
by their employees and may block their employees from visiting certain web
sites. Employers can also limit employees' Internet usage to business-related
web sites. If the employer has a company policy that its computer systems are
to be used only for work-related activities, it may discipline an employee who
uses its equipment for personal reasons. All such policies should be contained
in an employee handbook and the employer should require all employees to
acknowledge their understanding and receipt of such policies.
Q: Can an employer consider someone's disability during the hiring
A: An employer may describe the essential functions
necessary to perform the position, but may not ask whether the prospective
employee has a disability that may affect his or her ability to perform the
job. The employer also may not ask if a reasonable accommodation will be
necessary in order to perform the essential functions of the job. The employer
may, however, ask if the employee can perform the essential functions of the
job with or without reasonable accommodation.
Q: What is "At-Will" employment?
Pennsylvania, all employment is considered ìat-willî unless a contract is
signed by both parties indicating otherwise. ìAt-Willî employment means that
the employee can be terminated at any time for any reason or for no reason as
long as the reason is not based on illegal discrimination or other grounds
which may violate a ìpublic policyî which the courts determine is an exception
to at-will employment.
Q: How much time do Medical Assistance Program providers have to
appeal DPW decisions about payment?
A: The Medical Assistance
Provider Appeal Law (67 Pa. C.S.A. ß 1102) establishes a general rule of 30
days from notice of the DPW action, unless the notice is sent by mail, in which
case providers have 33 days from the date of the notice, unless there is good
cause, as recognized under court approved standards, for additional time. If an
appeal is mailed, it is deemed filed on the date of the post-mark on the appeal
as long as it is a U.S. Post Mark (appeals with any other post marks will not
be deemed filed until they are received by DPWís Bureau of Hearings and
Appeals). This means that Medical Assistance Program providers have less time
to get an appeal in than Medicare providers do.
Q: What rights do we have to collect a past due balance when a
resident or family refuse to pay for nursing care and
A: Under Pennsylvania law, a nursing facility has
numerous rights and options to pursue to liquidate an account receivable. The
facts and family background related to each problem account are varied and
diverse. But in every circumstance, your Business Office should be trained and
able to enforce the facilityís rights under the terms of the Admission
Agreement if it is written and executed properly. The Pennsylvania debt
collection law outlines what your facility can and should not do when
collecting a debt. Many of our clients contact us for a full range of options
including the following legal services: asset and location searches, demand for
payment or financial information to complete a Medicaid application,
negotiation of a Settlement Agreement, Decedentís Estate Claims, Bankruptcy
Court Claims, Notice of Intent to Discharge, Social Security Representative
Payee and preparation of Medicaid appeals, requests for injunctive relief,
Magisterial District Justice Complaints, County Court Complaints, judgment
liens and garnishments, and Petitions for financial guardianship.
Q: What is a Title?
A: A title is comprised of the
legal rights that a person has to the ownership and possession of land. Being
that it is possible that someone other than the owner has a legal right to the
property, if that right can be established, that person can claim the property
outright or make demands on the owner as to its use.
Q: What Can Make a Title Defective?
A: Any number
of problems that remain undisclosed after even the most meticulous search of
public records can make a title defective. These hidden ìdefectsî are dangerous
because you may not learn of them for many months or even years. However, they
could force you to spend a substantial sum on a legal defense that could still
result in the loss of your property.
Q: How Much Does Title Insurance Cost?
one-time premium is directly related to the value of your home. Typically, it
is less expensive than your annual auto insurance. Paid once when you purchase
your home, it continues to provide coverage for as long as you or your heirs
own the property.
If you've got questions about these matters or any others, please contact us today. Our team looks forward to
learning about your needs and providing counsel.