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The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law

A frequent tactic for employees who have used FMLA leave and who are fired around the same time is to allege that they were terminated for taking FMLA leave. But those claims fall apart if the person making the termination decision didn’t know about the leave. That’s reason enough to limit access to FMLA leave information to those who need to know.

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Here’s a twist in discrimination law that you might never consider. If a co-worker rivalry for an open position includes threats by one worker to quit if the other is promoted and the rivalry is based on sex bias, you may face a lawsuit if you accede to the threat. That’s what happened in one recent case that made its way to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

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Supervisors can and should be held to a higher standard when it comes to enforcing workplace rules. That includes punishing a supervisor who harasses a subordinate more harshly than a co-worker who harasses a colleague.

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A former Port Arthur chemical company president has pleaded guilty to occupational safety crimes in federal court. The former head of Port Arthur Chemical and Environmental Services admitted to violating OSHA by allowing a driver to haul a load so toxic it killed him.

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When someone claims age discrimination, he typically has to show that he was replaced by someone “significantly younger.” What that means is unclear—and courts seem in no hurry to come up with a hard-and-fast rule.

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Have you recently hired or promoted younger applicants into management positions? Do they supervise older employees? If so, be sure to include age discrimination warnings in your training sessions. All too often, younger employees may make statements that older workers interpret as biased.

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The DOJ has reached a settlement with the city of Corpus Christi, resolving claims that the city police department’s hiring test violated Title VII. The DOJ charged that from 2005 to 2011, the police depart­­ment used a physical abilities test that unlawfully screened out female applicants for entry-level police officer positions.

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Here’s an important reminder for anyone who is authorized to receive internal discrimination complaints: Always mark the exact date of every complaint in case the complaint is used later as the basis for an employee’s retaliation claim.

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Sometimes, it becomes apparent that something has to change in a workplace. When that’s the case, firing everyone and having them reapply for their jobs may be a viable approach, if a recent 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision is any indication.

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When negotiating contracts with employee outsourcing firms, many organizations make background checks an afterthought and leave the specifics up to the agency. That’s a big mistake.

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