The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law

A recent Information Letter issued by the IRS on the taxation of employer-provided parking, although noncontroversial, serves as a useful reminder that “free” parking for employees may result in taxes for both the employee and the employer.

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Some disabled employees seem to think that the accommodation they prefer must be the one they get as long as it meets the definition of “reasonable.” They’re wrong.

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Here’s a warning for public em­­ployers that want to discharge an employee for allegedly speaking out inappropriately: Make sure you conduct a thorough investigation that at least allows the employee a chance to defend his actions before you terminate him.

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These days, many employers are short-staffed, and feel like they can’t add anyone to payroll. Even so, it’s no surprise that disabled employees sometimes ask for accommodations that include providing help to do their jobs. Fortunately, employers don’t have to hire more staff to comply with the ADA.

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Courts don’t want to spend all their time mediating minor workplace disputes. Judges aren’t HR professionals and don’t want to run your business. Keep that in mind the next time an employee files a lawsuit based on one or two allegedly hostile incidents. Chances are, the case will be dismissed.

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Some employees complain all the time and don’t get along with their bosses and co-workers. But if their complaints aren’t specific and don’t raise at least potential discrimination based on race, age, sex or some other protected characteristic, their complaints aren’t so-called “protected activity.” Therefore, they can’t be the basis for later retaliation claims.

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The EEOC has sued Arthur’s Res­tau­rant and Bar in Addison for pregnancy discrimination after a waitress who was expecting a baby was allegedly fired when she was “beginning to show.”

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Oil and natural gas giant Shell Oil and refiner Motiva have agreed to pay $4,460,764 to 2,677 workers after the U.S. Department of Labor determined the companies failed to pay workers for required pre-shift meetings.

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Sometimes, the tension between sympathy for a disabled worker and a need for productivity leads to frustration and perhaps even ill-­chosen words. Luckily, one or two such incidents aren’t likely to end in a big jury award.

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“You have been sued.” When employers first read these words and realize the lawsuit launched against them is in a state court, most Texas employers—indeed, most employers—make it their first order of business to get the case moved to a federal court. Why? Defense attorneys cite various advantages to be gained from such a change, which is known as removal.

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