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In PA - Can employer force you out early? Pennsylvania

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  • In PA - Can employer force you out early? Pennsylvania

    Recently our employer (faced with higher than normal health care costs) has started forcing employees to go home before they worked a full 8 hour day/shift -- they say it is based on customer flow -- and are making employees go home. They are also making threats that if we do not get 32 hours in a week (averaged in one month) they will reduce our status to part-time and take away our health benefits. I can understand forcing out part-time employees but not full time ones. We get scheduled for 5 days at 8 hours per day and on average, employees can be forced to leave 4,5,6 or even 7 hours early multiple times in one week.

    Legal or not? If it is not legal, what steps do we take (we are not union at this time)

  • #2
    Yes, it's legal for your employer to reduce your hrs. as they wish unless you have a binding employment contract to the contrary.

    Whether your health ins. benefits can be taken away if you're reduced to part time & your hrs. are reduced below a certain # per wk. depends on what the company's health ins. "policy" says. It has to be followed per law. You can request a copy of the policy's Summary Plan Document/Description by requesting one from your employer.
    Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

    Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

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    • #3
      So I want to make sure I understand completely -- an employer can give you a schedule for 40 hours and then once you are there tell you you have to go home early (before your scheduled shift is over -- i.e. scheduled to work 6 - 2 - you show up at 6 to start and at 7 they tell you that you must go home) I do not work at a production facility but rather a customer based facility. They can do this multiple times in a week and then because of them forcing you to leave, also take away your health benefits because you are no longer considered a full time employee?

      Seems crappy -- what if we start a union -- would they be able to do this?

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      • #4
        an employer can give you a schedule for 40 hours and then once you are there tell you you have to go home early (before your scheduled shift is over -- i.e. scheduled to work 6 - 2 - you show up at 6 to start and at 7 they tell you that you must go home) That's right. What you are failing to understand is that neither your scheduled hours nor your part/full time status has any legal significance, and no law anywhere requires an employer to keep you at work when he has no work for you.

        They can do this multiple times in a week and then because of them forcing you to leave, also take away your health benefits because you are no longer considered a full time employee? This is slightly more questionable. It is absolutely legal for an employer to offer health insurance only to full time employees, but the plan document (which the employer is required to follow to the letter) will spell out what defines a full time employee. You will almost certainly have to fall below full time hours for a number of weeks before you will be considered part time for health insurance purposes. Of course, at least for this year (a lot of things change in 2014) in 48 out of 50 states, including yours, the employer can simply stop offering health insurance at all.

        what if we start a union -- would they be able to do this? That would depend on what the contract said. But the contract has to be fair to both the employer and the employee, so unless you have a VERY powerful union it's doubtful that the employer would be required to keep all employees on full pay for full time hours when he doesn't have enough work to support that. It's possible that a contract MIGHT state that you can never be given less than 40 hours a week - but in that case to be fair to the employer he would probably have the right to lay off some employees altogether.
        Last edited by cbg; 01-30-2013, 03:54 PM.
        The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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        • #5
          CBG, thank you for your information. That is extremely helpful. I have one more bit of information to ask about -- what if they are keeping part-time employees or are only forcing out certain employees (we all do the same thing -- we are casino dealers) or are targeting certain shifts/malicious choice to force out employees because they refused to go at another time -- or only targeting the same people instead of sharing the cuts across the board? We mostly started together so there is not much in the way of senority?

          It is just frustrating because they are basically passively forcing lots of employees into a part-time status to avoid paying benefits.

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          • #6
            Unless you have a binding employment contract to the contrary - all employees do not have to be treated the same as long as you aren't discriminated against due to a reason prohibited by law (ie age, religion, gender...)
            Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

            Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

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            • #7
              Unless they are singling people out on the basis of their race, religion, national origin, or other characteristic protected by law, they absolutely can target certain people. It is 100% legal for them to "force out" people who refuse to work a different shift. (BTW, they could, if they wanted to, fire an employee out of hand if they refused to work another shift.)

              You might want to consider which is preferable - part time hours, or no hours.
              The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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