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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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Navigating legal matters can be complicated, and at Kunkle and Sennett, we expect that you will have questions. We have gathered some of our most frequently asked questions here. If you have other questions, please check the services tab for a list of the types of legal cases we take on. We also welcome you to contact us directly.


In matters involving workers’ compensation or other injuries, we do not charge for an initial consultation. In most other situations, we charge a reasonable fee for the initial consultation. In all matters, one of our attorneys will first speak with you by telephone to ensure that a consultation will provide value to you and have a reasonable chance of leading to ongoing representation by our firm.

We always discuss the fee for the initial consultation prior to confirming it, and we strive to structure our fees for ongoing representation so that our clients can afford our services. Realistically, this means that we occasionally are not able to take on cases where the cost of representation would be likely to exceed the amount that could ultimately be recovered on behalf of the client.

Areas of Law We Practice

At Kunkle and Sennett, we take on cases that are related to the following areas of law:

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We are leanly staffed and use the latest technology to optimize our efficiency. Our goal is not to take a high volume of cases, but rather those that are most deserving of our attention and where we can do the most good. We decline more cases than we take on, and we are completely transparent about the fees and costs that will be involved in any matter we accept.

For more information, we invite you to contact Kunkle and Sennett, attorneys in West Chester, PA, at (610) 692-8911. 

Employee Compensation and Benefits

A non-compete agreement is a contract that an employer may ask an employee to sign that states the employee agrees not to compete with the employer within a defined geographical area for a limited time (typically 12 to 24 months) once that employee leaves the position. The agreement will usually spell out what types of competition are disallowed.

A nonsolicitation agreement is a contract that prohibits an employee from soliciting, or attempting to do business with, certain customers or clients of the employer for a limited time after the employee leaves the position. Both types of agreements, referred to as “restrictive covenants,” can impose significant limitations on employees’ future employment opportunities.  

In states that follow the employment-at-will doctrine, and almost all states do, employers may require employees to sign such agreements under threat of termination if they do not. (A few states, including California, have laws that prevent employers from requiring such agreement.) Employers often present such agreements to employees during their first few days of work, after the opportunity to negotiate or reject the restrictive covenant has passed. Employees exploring a job change should always be proactive and ask the prospective employers whether they will be asked to sign a restrictive covenant.

It is critical that you seek experienced legal counsel if you are facing with such a choice in order to avoid putting yourself in a position where your future employment opportunities may be significantly limited if you sign such an agreement.

Employers must provide sufficient consideration to you, in the form of a new job or additional compensation opportunities in your existing job, for such agreements to be enforceable, but the determination of what constitutes sufficient consideration is very nuanced and can involve considerable expense.

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Before signing anything, we recommend that you contact West Chester, PA attorneys Kunkle and Sennett. We can review the documents to ensure your future employment opportunities are protected. Call us at (610) 692-8911. 

Eligibility for overtime compensation and calculation of the amount due is governed by federal and state (and in some cases, local) laws. You should seek experienced legal counsel if you believe that you have been short-changed in any form of compensation, including overtime. In some cases, the law permits you to seek make-whole compensation and double damages going back as much as three years from the date you make your claim.

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Do you have more questions on overtime compensation and calculation? Please contact our West Chester, PA law firm to speak to Tom Sennett or Steve Kunkle.

Employment Counsel to Small Businesses

It may be an unfair labor practice, in violation of the National Labor Relations Act, to discipline an employee for complaining about working conditions. 

Legal Help in West Chester

Employers should seek competent legal counsel in such instances, because the remedy they may be forced to afford the employee could include reinstating a terminated employee to the same position and paying the employee all lost compensation.

Employment Discrimination

First, you must look at your employer’s policy manual or employee handbook to determine if it has a policy prohibiting harassment and, if so, whether that policy includes a procedure for lodging complaints about harassment. If the policy includes such a procedure, you must comply with it, unless the procedure designates only the person harassing you as the person to bring your complaint to.

Importance of Documentation

Apart from this, you should document all incidents of harassment and communicate your request that the harassment end to both your boss and your human resources representative, both verbally and in a confirming writing (e-mail is fine).

By doing this, you provide yourself with legal protection against retaliation by your employer for raising the complaint of harassment and preserve your right to make a claim in court if the harassment continues.

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Have you been experiencing harassment at work? Please contact our West Chester, PA law firm to speak to one of our experienced attorneys. 

Document the request, go to your human resources representative and describe your concern, and ask for the opportunity to not have to meet your boss off-site. Do you best to provide reasonable justification for your concern and to provide alternatives to the need for off-site meetings.

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Seek the advice of experienced legal counsel if your request is unreasonably denied or if you are subject to retaliation for making it. Contact Kunkle and Sennett today.

It may be, if your employer did not have a legitimate business reason for terminating you or if your employer treated you differently than other employees who were not in your protected category and who engaged in similar conduct.

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Do you think you've experienced discrimination from your employer? Please call Kunkle and Sennett for more information.

Long-Term Disability Benefits

The law that governs employer-sponsored disability insurance, known as ERISA, is notoriously friendly to insurance companies and employers and unfriendly to disabled claimants. The failure to provide evidence of disability during what is known as the administrative phase of the claim—when you are dealing directly with your employer or with its disability insurance carrier—can be fatal to your claim and prevent you from presenting significant evidence in any appeal to federal court. 

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You should at the very least consult with an attorney who regularly practices in this area, as Steve Kunkle has done for over 36 years.

Workers' Compensation

There are many factors that insurance companies consider in evaluating the settlement value of a workers’ compensation claim. In Pennsylvania, compensation is paid based on the employee’s pre-injury earnings. Therefore, a claim that produces a high-level loss of earnings is worth much more than a claim with a low-level loss of earnings.

There is no pain and suffering component to workers’ compensation benefits, so the severity of the injury only affects settlement value in so far as it impacts the employee’s loss of earnings. The insurance company does not care what impact the injury has on the life of the affected worker.

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Obviously, there are other factors besides pre-injury earnings that affect the projected loss of earnings, including the individual’s educational and vocational background, their training, other health issues, and their age. It is also important to understand how the insurance company evaluates its reserves on a claim (money set aside to cover their exposure) in order to come up with an appropriate settlement figure. At Kunkle and Sennett, your workers’ compensation attorney in West Chester, PA, we make sure you understand the entire settlement process, so you know that we are maximizing your recovery and structuring the best deal for your particular circumstance.

We all have to cope with stress to some extent. Usually, we can handle it, but sometimes as stress builds up, we have greater and greater difficulty with it until we don’t think we can take it anymore.

One of the most significant potential generators of stress that can happen to a wage earner is to suffer a disabling work injury. Any injury can be a source of stress, but when the injury is serious enough to take you out of work, what naturally follows is worry and anxiety. When you combine the burden of healing and recovery with losing your income stream and possibly losing your job, an injured worker may feel trapped and unable to cope.

Legal Counsel for Disability Benefits in West Chester

If someone is injured enough that they are disabled, they usually don’t need a lot of encouragement to seek medical care for their physical injury. However, many of my clients, burdened with the stress and anxiety of healing, losing money, and worrying about their job, are still reluctant to seek any medical help for the mental side of their injury. Many people feel that there is still a negative stigma attached to any type of psychological or psychiatric counseling, despite the legitimate high anxiety that comes from being physically injured and unable to work.

Obviously, each individual is different and will be affected differently, but don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor about worry and anxiety when you see them for your injury. Seek help when you need it.

If you are injured at work, the first thing to do is notify your employer of your injury. To be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, the employee must meet all the elements required by the Workers’ Compensation Act and one of those elements is notice. Failing to notify your employer of your injury in a timely manner can completely bar your claim.

The employer must have “knowledge of the occurrence of the injury,” or the employee must “give notice thereof” within 21 days of the injury; if not, then no compensation is due until notice is given, and unless notice is given within 120 days of the occurrence of the injury, no compensation will be paid. Therefore, it is important to give notice of the injury as promptly as possible. Waiting even one day to notify your employer may cause the employer to doubt the legitimacy of your claim.

Worker's Compensation Process in West Chester

Proper notice includes how, what, where, when, and to whom.

As to how notice must be given, the only guideline is to “inform the employer.” Therefore, notice can be oral (in person or by phone, for example) or written (a letter or an email), as long as the employer has actual knowledge of the injury. The best practice is to tell the employer face-to-face and have the injury confirmed with an injury report. 

As to what, the employer must be informed that the employee received an injury in the course of employment.

When and where are obvious: the date and time of the injury and the location.

To whom means notice should be given to a supervisor of the employee, such as a foreman, or any agent of the employer regularly employed at the place of employment, such as a human resources or personnel administrator. It is not enough to say, “I'm hurt; I need to go to the doctor,” even if you think your supervisor saw you get injured.  Don't rely on this, as a supervisor may later say, “The employee never told me the injury was from work.” Tell your employer your injury was from your work.

How to Give Notice

Here are some other tips about giving notice of your injury:

  • Be complete and be consistent. It helps when the injury report and the history of injury given to the doctor are the same.
  • Report your injury to the proper person:
    • Telling your coworker is not notice.
    • Telling your spouse is not notice.
    • Telling your doctor is not notice.
    • Telling your lawyer is not notice.
  • Report the injury promptly. Although the Act allows you 120 days, even waiting 24 hours may cause the employer to question the credibility of your claim.

So, when reporting an injury, tell your supervisor what happened, how it happened, where it happened, and when it happened.      

The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation has many forms that are used to make a record of the status of your claim. The majority of these forms are for use by employers and insurance carriers. Most Bureau forms are designed to be simple and straightforward. Unfortunately, if they are not completed correctly, an employee’s rights may be compromised by the use of the wrong phrase or date. If you get a form from the insurance company, please call us to make sure that you know what you are signing.

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We are happy to review any form you get from the Bureau, your employer, or the workers’ compensation carrier. Please contact Kunkle and Sennett for more information.

Employers are supposed to post a list of approved medical providers (a “panel”) at your workplace so that you consult with one of these providers in the event you are injured at work. The employer is supposed to have the employee sign a notice form acknowledging that the employee knows about the panel providers.

Many employers fail to provide this list and also fail to provide the employee with the notice form to sign. Often the workers’ compensation carrier will send the notice form to the injured worker after the injury has been reported and will still insist that you treat with a member of their approved panel or face the possibility that the carrier will refuse to pay medical bills from an unapproved medical provider.

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This restriction is in place for the first 90 days after your injury. After 90 days, you may seek treatment with whatever provider you choose. Please remember, your health is more important than anything, and if you have questions, please call us so we can help protect your well-being.

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