The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law

Courts are losing patience with employees who act as their own lawyers in discrimination cases but don’t complain to the EEOC before filing lawsuits. A federal court recently gave such a pro se litigant just 15 days to prove she had first gone to the commission.

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Public employees have the right to speak their minds on matters of public importance without punishment. However, that right is clearly limited. A public employee can’t claim that free speech includes the right to use derogatory terms at work.

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When budgets for raises are lean, it’s tempting to reward employees with a better title than a hefty pay increase. That’s risky.

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In order to claim that a transfer or a realignment of duties qualifies as an adverse employment action, employees must show that the transfer or job changes were somehow potentially harmful. That’s especially true in the case of job changes that spring from a lateral move across the organization chart, with the same pay and benefits.

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Older workers tend to have more overall experience and may seem overqualified for entry-level positions. Don’t reject those candidates, though. Doing so may set you up for a discrimination lawsuit.

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It’s illegal to punish employees for engaging in protected activity. But for an employer to be liable, the punishment would have to be significant. Minor changes in an employee’s job aren’t enough.

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While public employees typically have greater protections on the job than employees working in the private sector, they don’t have unlimited protection from interference with their jobs.

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The Supreme Court of Texas has decided a case brought under Texas law that will help employers defend themselves against retaliation claims.

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The U.S. Department of Labor claims a recent enforcement initiative in the oil fields of West Texas and Eastern New Mexico has resulted in workers recovering $1.3 million in lost wages. The DOL Wage and Hour Division oil and gas initiative began in late 2014.

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Employees out on FMLA leave are supposed to be freed of their regular work responsibilities. They are on leave, after all. Some supervisors have taken this to mean that they may never call an employee who is out on FMLA leave to discuss work-related matters. That’s not entirely true.

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