The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law

In recent years, courts have consistently supported employers’ use of arbitration agreements in employment settings. During the past few terms, the Supreme Court of the United States has issued several decisions upholding their use.

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Some employees seem to believe that every minor illness is grounds for FMLA leave. If it’s clear an absence is for an illness not covered by the FMLA, say so. That way, an employee can’t later argue that he was unfairly denied leave when you include the absence in the disciplinary process.

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The EEOC has filed suit against NFI Roadrail and NFI Industries as a result of a pay disparity at its Irving facility. According to the complaint, the company pays men significantly more than women who perform the same work.

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Fortune magazine has listed its 100 best companies to work for in 2014, and 12 Lone Star state firms made the cut—including four of the top 20.

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Are some of your benefits—such as bonuses or other merit payments at retirement or departure—contingent on complying with a covenant-not-to-complete? Chances are the benefits plan administrator—not a federal court—will be interpreting the terms.

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Sometimes, the most sensible solution to an ongoing em­­ployee complaint is to transfer the em­­ployee. But some employees may see that as retaliation, especially if the “fresh start” turns out to be a false one. Such a retaliation claim is unlikely to succeed as long as there was no change in title, major job responsibilities, pay and benefits.

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Some employees aren’t quite ready to return from FMLA leave after their 12 weeks are up. How you handle their request can make the difference between winning and losing a discrimination lawsuit.

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In 2007, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs selected Frito-Lay for an audit by issuing a scheduling letter. Two years later, the agency re­­quested hiring data for January 2008 to October 2009 claiming it had found a “statistically significant” difference in its hiring rate for women at its Dallas facility. Frito-Lay refused, claiming the scheduling letter did not authorize the new data’s release.

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When Suzanne Benoit, SPHR, joined Wright-Ryan Con­­struc­­tion as its HR director, she learned that the company had been using an annual performance review process that wasn’t yielding the results it wanted. She then created a new process designed to improve performance, accountability and employee engagement. Here’s a conversation we recently had about how that process worked and its results.

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Whether it is a small inquiry that might only involve a couple of questions, or a weighty investigation into serious allegations of misconduct, being deliberate and intentional about an investigation will create a more helpful and less disruptive process.

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