High Swartz Named ‘Top Attorneys’ for 2017 by Suburban Life Magazine

Attorneys named among best in greater Philadelphia area for family law, workers’ compensation and business law.

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (July 31, 2017) –   High Swartz LLP, a full-service law firm with offices in Norristown and Doylestown, Pennsylvania, is pleased to announce that its attorneys have been named among the “Top Attorneys” for 2017 by Suburban Life magazine.

The attorneys receiving the honors include Mary Cushing Doherty, who was recognized for her excellence in the practice area of family law and divorce, Thomas E. Panzer for workers’ compensation, and Joel D. Rosen who was recognized in the practice area of business law.

A former member of the Board of the Pennsylvania Bar Institute and former Chair of the Family Law Sections of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Philadelphia Bar Association and the Montgomery Bar Association, Doherty has more than 35 years of legal experience in the area of family law.

Active in local politics in Bucks County, Panzer serves as the county’s elected Treasurer. He focuses his practice on workers’ compensation, handling both claimant and defense matters, which has made him a sought-after and frequent lecturer on Pennsylvania workers’ compensation topics.

The managing partner of High Swartz, Rosen focuses his practice on franchise law, business and commercial law, employment law, trademark/copyright law and commercial leasing. He serves on the board of directors for several area nonprofits, including the Hepatitis B Foundation, Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center and Baruch S. Blumberg Institute, and the Montgomery Bar Foundation.

The annual list of Top Attorneys in Suburban Life highlights the best legal practitioners from the greater Philadelphia area who focus their legal practices in a wide range of practice areas, from business law to criminal defense, medical malpractice and more.

High Swartz LLP is a general practice law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.

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Child Care Workers’ Challenge to Firing for Reporting Abuse

July 25, 2017By Thomas D. Rees, Esq.On May 23, 2017, the Pennsylvania Superior Court issued an important employment law decision, affecting everyone who works with children.  In Krolczyk v. Goddard Systems, Inc., ___ A.3d ___, 2017 WL 2255554 (Pa. Super. May 23, 2017), the Court allowed ex-employees to sue for wrongful discharge after being fired for planning to report suspected child abuse. Krolczyk arose after a Harrisburg Goddard preschool terminated two child care teachers for planning to report suspected home abuse of a 4-year old preschooler to the state.  The child had a long pattern of violent and disruptive physical and verbal conduct toward teachers and other children.  Such conduct is one indicator of possible abuse.  The matter came to a head after the child bit one of the teachers and had to be restrained.  The teachers then called the Department of Education hotline to ask how to address their suspicions of abuse.  The hotline told the teachers to discuss their suspicions with the center’s manager and then make a formal report of suspected child abuse to the Department of Public Welfare (“DPW”).  The teachers informed the manager of the suspected abuse and told her of their intent to report to DPW.  The manager fired the teachers later that day, and then sent a letter to school parents stating that the dismissal was carried out for the good of the children.The teachers sued Goddard for discharging them in violation of a clear Pennsylvania public policy protecting children.  The teachers claimed that the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law requires teachers who have direct contact with children to make a report when there is reasonable cause to suspect child abuse.  Thus, the teachers had a legal duty to report the suspected abuse.  The teachers also sued for defamation based on the manager’s letter to parents.The trial court dismissed the teachers’ claims and granted Goddard summary judgment.  The court held that there was a legitimate basis for the discharge, since the teachers had not followed proper procedures in restraining the child.  The court stated that where two grounds exist for an employee discharge, and one ground is reasonable, the discharge should be upheld.The Superior Court overturned the trial court’s dismissal of the wrongful discharge claim, allowing the claim to go to a jury, while upholding dismissal of the defamation claim.  The Superior Court rejected the trial court’s analysis and held that the school terminated the teachers for reporting the suspected abuse.  The court noted that Goddard had not fired other employees who had been accused of restraint violations.  Only the plaintiffs had been fired, right after expressing an intent to report suspected abuse.  In essence, the court concluded that the restraint issue was a pretext, or a make-weight, used to support the teachers’ dismissal.The Superior Court’s decision is sound, given the statutory duty to report child abuse.    Child care workers and teachers who report abuse now join the small class of employees who can bring wrongful discharge claims.  Such claims are available only employees with no contract that limits the employer’s ability to discharge.  The employee must show that the discharge results from either the employee’s exercise of a legal right, performance of a legal duty, refusal to perform an illegal act, or reporting an illegal act.  Further, if a statute provides a remedy for a discharge, the employee must use the statutory remedy rather than sue for wrongful discharge.If you have any questions, please contact Thomas D. Rees at 610-275-0700 or via email at trees@highswartz.com.The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation. 

High Swartz Family Law Attorneys Speak at Pennsylvania Bar Association Family Law Section Summer Meeting

Mary Cushing Doherty and Elizabeth Early talk executive compensation and custody case law updates at annual meetingNORRISTOWN, Pa. (July 24, 2017) – Pennsylvania family law attorney Mary Cushing Doherty, a partner at High Swartz LLP and the chair of the firm’s family law practice, and Elizabeth C. Early, an associate with the firm, recently acted as speakers during the Pennsylvania Bar Association Family Law Section’s Summer Meeting, held July 13 to July 16 at the Omni Richmond in Richmond, Virginia.Many of the sessions at the conference focused on the financial implications of divorce, including financial issues that affect the baby boomer generation. Doherty participated in a program entitled “Conquering Executive Compensation,” which explored the compensation packages being offered by the most financially sophisticated companies and discussed ways to identify, value, and distribute these complex assets during a divorce or custody action. Doherty was joined on the panel by family law attorney Mary Vidas and financial experts Sandra R. Klevan, CPA, and John Petrancosta, CPA.Early helped close out the conference weekend with a case law update on custody during her program. In her practice at High Swartz, Early focuses her practice on divorce, custody, support, equitable distribution, pre and post-nuptial agreements and abuse matters.A former member of the Board of the Pennsylvania Bar Institute and former Chair of the Family Law Sections of the Pennsylvania Bar Association and the Montgomery Bar Association, Doherty has more than 35 years of legal experience in the area of family law. She concentrates her practice on all aspects of marital dissolution and family law issues including divorce, child support, visitation, custody, spousal support and alimony, premarital agreement asset protection, complex property division and more.High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

Why do you need a Power of Attorney for your Child in College?

July 18, 2017Do you have a child going off to college this fall?  Then you know it is time to start shopping for all of the dorm room essentials.  But perhaps more importantly, it is also time for them to consider a Power of Attorney.  Doctors, hospitals and even the college they are attending are limited in what information can be shared with parents or other adults.  Without a Power of Attorney, a parent, even one paying their tuition, covering their health insurance and claiming them as a dependent on their tax return, could be helpless to aid their adult child if an emergency arises.  A Power of Attorney for medical and financial matters allows your college-bound child to appoint someone to handle these matters for them if they are unable or unavailable to handle it themselves.Proper planning can allow your young adult to appoint the person or persons they trust to handle financial and medical matters for them.  If they have a serious illness or accident, having these documents in place can save the family time and significant costs by avoiding the immediate need to seek a court appointed guardian.  If they are traveling abroad and need assistance with matters at home, the Power of Attorney will allow their agent to handle banking transactions, sign tax returns and many other types of matters for them.A young adult, or any adult for that matter, should take the time to be sure these documents are in place before they become necessary.  Please call one of our estate planning attorneys for more information.If you have any questions about a Power of Attorney, please contact us at 215-345-8888 or via email at main@highswartz.com.The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.

High Swartz Family Law Chair Co-Authors PA Practice Guide

Mary Cushing Doherty has co-authored the LexisNexis Practice Guide to Pennsylvania Family LawNORRISTOWN, Pa. (July 12, 2017) – Pennsylvania family law attorney Mary Cushing Doherty, a partner at High Swartz LLP and the chair of the firm’s family law practice, has authored the 2017 edition of “LexisNexis Practice Guide: Pennsylvania Family Law” along with West Chester divorce attorney Carla Marino.The book provides practical and insightful guidance on all aspects of handling a family law case for new and seasoned family law practitioners and  general practice attorneys who handle family law matters in Pennsylvania.The guide also offers commentary, organizational suggestions, case summaries, and many forms. Each chapter identifies the key provisions of the relevant Pennsylvania statutes and the rules discussed in the chapter, so the attorney is well prepared for settlement or litigation.The softbound book, which is updated annually, also is available in eBook form.A former member of the Board of the Pennsylvania Bar Institute and former chair of the Family Law Sections of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Philadelphia Bar Association and the Montgomery Bar Association, Doherty has more than 35 years of legal experience in the area of family law. She recently was honored with the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Special Achievement Award, in recognition of her tireless work to encourage passage of 2016 state legislation to reduce the waiting time for a no-fault, unilateral divorce from two years to one year.Doherty concentrates her practice on all aspects of marital dissolution and family law issues including divorce, child support, visitation, custody, spousal support and alimony, premarital agreement asset protection, complex property division and more. She is a graduate of the University of Delaware and the Villanova University School of Law.High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.# # #

Can a Potential Employer ask about Salary History?

July 11, 2017Searching for a job is often a stressful and exhausting process. Applicants often find themselves filling out application after application and crossing their fingers for a call back.  Perhaps one of the most daunting questions, despite its relatively straight forward nature, is the dreaded question requesting salary at the applicants last job. Applicants justifiably fret over if their response to this seemingly simple question will lock them into a salary less than what they truly want or in the alternative price them out of the position, thus prolonging their search.Interestingly, there is a growing trend in employment law forbidding exactly this type of inquiry. Proponents of such bans suggest that because women and minorities have historically been paid less than men, the practice of asking for a salary history can help perpetuate a cycle of lower salaries, continuing throughout their careers.  Accordingly, it is advocated that eliminating inquiry into past salaries will aid in closing the infamous wage gap.  It is suggested that by not asking what an individual made in the past, employers will be offering salaries appropriate with the position, not  the individual’s past earnings, which may not be an altogether helpful metric.In December 2016, Philadelphia became the first major city to pass such legislation when City Council unanimously passed the wage equity ordinance which was then signed by Mayor Kenney in January 2017.  The Philadelphia law also provides that if the employer somehow come across the information, they cannot use it as the basis for salary decisions unless the applicant knowingly and willingly disclosed it.  Due to a legal challenge by the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, however, the city has delayed enforcement of the ordinance.  Despite the fact that the law is not currently being enforced, however, people living and working in Philadelphia will want to pay attention to how this lawsuit is decided.The trend continues across the country.  Massachusetts passed a similar law last summer and on May 4, 2017 New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law a ban on salary history questions, which is set to take effect October 31, 2017.  Additionally, on June 14, 2017,  Delaware Governor, John Carney signed House Bill 1 into law.  This law, is set to take effect in December 2017, and similarly prohibits employers from asking job applicants about their salary history before making an employment offer.  The prohibition extends to asking both applicant for the information as well as the applicant’s former employer. It is important to note, however, that employers can discuss and negotiate salary expectations during the interview process, provided they avoiding asking about compensation history. Along the same lines, California law prohibits employers from justifying a compensation disparity by pointing to the employee’s prior salary on its own.The practical take away from this trend, for both employees and employers, is to pay attention to the law where you live.  Keeping informed is certainly the best way to know what can and cannot be asked in an interview.If you have any questions, please contact us at 610-275-0700 or via email at main@highswartz.com.The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.