The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law

When budgets for raises are lean, it’s tempting to reward employees with a better title than a hefty pay increase. That’s risky.

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In order to claim that a transfer or a realignment of duties qualifies as an adverse employment action, employees must show that the transfer or job changes were somehow potentially harmful. That’s especially true in the case of job changes that spring from a lateral move across the organization chart, with the same pay and benefits.

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Older workers tend to have more overall experience and may seem overqualified for entry-level positions. Don’t reject those candidates, though. Doing so may set you up for a discrimination lawsuit.

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It’s illegal to punish employees for engaging in protected activity. But for an employer to be liable, the punishment would have to be significant. Minor changes in an employee’s job aren’t enough.

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While public employees typically have greater protections on the job than employees working in the private sector, they don’t have unlimited protection from interference with their jobs.

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The Supreme Court of Texas has decided a case brought under Texas law that will help employers defend themselves against retaliation claims.

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The U.S. Department of Labor claims a recent enforcement initiative in the oil fields of West Texas and Eastern New Mexico has resulted in workers recovering $1.3 million in lost wages. The DOL Wage and Hour Division oil and gas initiative began in late 2014.

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Employees out on FMLA leave are supposed to be freed of their regular work responsibilities. They are on leave, after all. Some supervisors have taken this to mean that they may never call an employee who is out on FMLA leave to discuss work-related matters. That’s not entirely true.

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A Texas court has refused to give workers additional time to file discrimination lawsuits based on a so-called “discovery” rule. The case involved an employee who argued he had more time to sue because he did not realize he had been discriminated against during the 180 days immediately following the alleged discrimination. He said it took longer than that for it to become obvious that bias had occurred.

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If you want to lose a hostile environment lawsuit, go ahead and ignore complaints and let managers act like bigots and racists. A recent case illustrates just how big a mistake tolerating such nonsense can be.

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