The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law

When planning a reduction in force, you can offer different employees different severance payments—as long as it’s based on a nondiscriminatory reason, such as length of service.

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If you learn a manager made an age-related comment, don’t panic. Context is everything.  An obvious discriminatory statement— “I am terminating you because you are old”—is one thing. However, a general comment—for example, about the advantages of accepting a retirement package as an older employee—probably isn’t biased.

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Sometimes, an employee’s performance problems may not seem serious enough to warrant a formal performance improvement plan. However, you should be sure to document the problems anyway. Those records will be useful if you later have to terminate someone for economic reasons.

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Public employees don’t lose their First Amendment free speech rights when they take a government job. Their employer can’t punish them for speaking out on matters of public importance.

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Employers are allowed to pay tipped employees less than minimum wage and take a credit for the difference through their tips. With minimum wage set at $7.25, employers may pay $2.13 per hour as long as tips make up the difference (or more). But can the employer deduct from the credit costs associated with credit card processing and calculating, cashing out and distributing the money?

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Rules that are unclear, vague or poorly worded can spell trouble if they end up being applied differently to some employees and not others. That’s one reason you should pay careful attention to the language in your policies.

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OSHA inspectors staging a spot inspection at K-T Galvanizing Co. in the Dallas-Fort Worth-area town of Venus found 13 serious violations of workplace safety and health regulations.

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Some jobs require special government physical certifications as a pre-requisite to employment. These are generally designed to make sure the employee can safely perform a job that might otherwise put the public, or the employee, at risk of harm. What happens if such an employee becomes disabled?

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Many Americans have criminal records. The EEOC and local government agencies want to help former convicts start over. The movement to “ban the box” on job applications—the box those with criminal histories are supposed to check—is part of that trend. So is the EEOC’s position that barring applicants with criminal records from employment may amount to discrimination based on race or ethnicity. Employers that refuse to consider any applicant who has a criminal record risk litigation.

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Employers can, and should, ask for appropriate medical documentation to back up requests for time off. If not received, the worker can be disciplined.

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