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The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law

The Austin Fire Department has stopped hiring candidates from its 2012 candidate list now that the EEOC has declared that its hiring test discriminated against black and Hispanic candidates. The EEOC pointed to disparities in pass rates between the groups.

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It’s always a good idea to check to see whether an employee who is suing you has filed for bankruptcy. If he didn’t disclose the litigation against your company, he may lose the right to sue.

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What should you do when an employee keeps spouting offensive racial slurs despite repeated warnings to stop? Fire her before she says or does something that leads to a lawsuit.

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Employees who complain about discrimination are protected from retaliation. But their complaints have to be specific, at least mentioning why they suspect discrimination. Other­­wise, they aren’t engaged in protected activity and can’t allege retaliation.

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Some jobs are inherently more stressful than others and some positions require careful supervision. Employees with such jobs may feel anxious and under constant scrutiny. That can be an unexpected benefit should an employee claim some form of harassment based on sex, race, disability or other protected membership.

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Merely informing an older worker that he or she may be eligible for retirement benefits while discussing a layoff isn’t evidence of age discrimination.

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Interviews reveal applicants’ membership in protected classes like race, sex and obvious disability. As a result, courts sometimes look with suspicion on rejecting an applicant who was obviously qualified enough to earn an interview but who was rejected because of her interview performance.

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Here’s an important reminder for HR professionals and managers who must investigate employee misconduct and decide on appropriate discipline. Don’t forget to provide a detailed account of what happened, whom you interviewed and how you arrived at an appropriate punishment. Make sure similar misconduct results in similar consequences.

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Dallas-based trade show and convention management firm Freeman has beaten back an EEOC lawsuit that challenged the firm’s use of criminal background checks in hiring. The EEOC sued in 2009, claiming Free­­man’s criminal background checks had a disparate impact on blacks, Hispanics and men.

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Workers who are more sensitive than others can’t sue, alleging a hostile work environment, unless conditions are truly terrible. They simply have to tolerate the occasional un­­kind comment and other ordinary workplace annoyances.

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