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Trustee Training: Lehigh Valley Region

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On a late summer Saturday, (August 12), over 40 trustees and library directors from the Reading, Allentown, Bethlehem and Lebanon District Centers joined attorney David Spitko at the beautiful new Doubletree Hotel in Reading Pa. for a day-long workshop on employment law.

Since most small and medium size libraries don’t have HR departments, library trustees need access to information and training about their legal responsibilities and liabilities as employers.  Mr. Spitko has done numerous presentations at library conferences and workshops and has developed an informal specialty in library laws in addition to his practice as a labor and employment attorney.

The morning part of the workshop focused on current laws that impact employment, including Equal Employment Opportunity laws, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1973, the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1993, and the Fair Labor Standards Act. He then moved into a discussion about how these laws impact the hiring process, performance review, disciplinary actions and finally, the termination process.

During a buffet lunch, participants were asked to share personnel experiences in small table groups.

The afternoon session did a deeper dive into laws regarding sexual and other unlawful harassment, the Family and Medical Leave Act, ADA accommodations and recommended personnel policies to include in an Employee handbook. Throughout both sessions, Mr. Spitko responded to questions.

Comments from the participants were positive. There was universal agreement that this kind of information needs to available to every trustees; even the smallest of library organizations can be vulnerable to costly and time-consuming litigation.  Participants came away with the tools in hand to protect themselves, problem solve and create work environments that protect the safety and legal rights of their employees.

This workshop was made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services as administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education through the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, Governor.

submitted by
Denise Sticha
Berks County Public Libraries


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