The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law

When you are investigating em­­ployee wrongdoing and deciding on discipline, you don’t have to get everything exactly right—as long as you act in good faith and aren’t trying to set up someone or use the disciplinary process as a pretext for discrimination.

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Here’s an important factor to consider when terminating an employee who has recently complained about alleged discrimination of some sort: If she can show at least a tenuous connection between her complaint (like its timing) and her discharge, she will probably be able to proceed with her lawsuit.

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In 2012, the EEOC received 7,571 complaints from workers alleging they were sexual harassment victims (17.8% of whom were men) and recovered $43 million for har­­assed workers. Don’t let your organization add to those statistics. Take these steps to prevent and address sexual harassment.

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Harris Health System in Houston will pay out more than $4 million in back pay after it failed to include incentive pay when calculating overtime for thousands of hourly staff members.

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Mattress Firm, a Houston-based bedding retailer, faces charges it discriminated against older workers at its Las Vegas stores. The EEOC has filed suit against the company after efforts to mediate the case failed.

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Some accommodations requests aren’t directly related to the disabled employee’s job functions. Take, for example, simple accommodations like changing arrival and departure times so a disabled employee can take a specific bus or providing a reserved parking spot next to the entrance. Those accommodations fall within the scope of the ADA.

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Laredo-based Platinum PTS will pay a former employee $100,000 to settle charges it violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. According to her complaint, the former employee was fired after she asked for time off following a miscarriage.

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When several qualified candidates are in the running for a job, you can use interview performance as the deciding factor. Just make sure interviewers note their specific reasons why one applicant seemed better than the others.

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The Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act (TUTSA) took effect on Sept. 1. Trade secrets have long received protection under Texas common law. However, TUTSA gives companies additional safeguards and expands the legal remedies to address harm when a former employee misappropriates trade secrets.

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Do some of your supervisors gripe about having to follow anti-discrimination laws? Rein them in. Otherwise, you’ll wind up in court if a job candidate gets rejected for obviously illegal reasons.

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