The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law

In a bizarre legal twist, the 5th Cir­­cuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a supervisor who was sued over his decision to terminate an employee for taking FMLA leave may be personally liable for terminating her—despite the fact that the public employer may be immune to an FMLA lawsuit.

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When you evaluate whether a former employee may sue you successfully over her discharge, consider this: If you replaced her with someone belonging to the same protected class, she’ll have a hard time winning a lawsuit that claims you were biased against her class.

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Sometimes, simple medical procedures turn out to be not so simple after all. A few days off for outpatient surgery may morph into a lengthy FMLA leave and render the employee disabled. Don’t jump the gun and terminate the employee without considering whether he’s now entitled to FMLA leave and reasonable accommodations.

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Want to avoid unnecessary lawsuits over whether an applicant is qualified for a job opening or promotion opportunity? Then make sure your job announcement includes specific information about minimum requirements so that those don’t become the basis for a lawsuit.

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Here’s some good news for HR managers handling sexual har­­assment complaints. As long as you act fast, investigate and use your best efforts to prevent a repeat performance, one sexually explicit comment isn’t grounds for a lawsuit.

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Employees are entitled to fair treatment, but that doesn’t mean HR has to become a court of law and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an employee did something deserving of discharge. As long as you reasonably believe an employee broke a rule or other­­wise did something deserving of discharge, a termination will stand up to a legal challenge.

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The Austin Police Department last year reassigned 19 supervisors from its organized crime division in what officials term an attempt to “change culture.” Thirteen reassigned officers see the move differently, and they are fighting it.

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In a major win for employers, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the highly controversial D.R. Horton decision from the NLRB.

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A former employee at Lanxess Corp. has sued her former employer, claiming the company discriminated against her because of her gender. She recounts male employees telling her “women aren’t supposed to be back here” and that it was “not a woman’s job.”

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A federal judge has sentenced the former president of GMP Allied Workers Local 284 to 12 months and one day in prison after he pleaded guilty to embezzlement charges. The union official admitted taking $124,181 from the Longview-based local between 2000 and 2011.

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