The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law

A federal court in Washington, D.C., has ruled against Elizabeth Howie, a 46-year-old black staffer for Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson.  Howie claimed she was fired because of her race and age …

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OSHA announced in August that it proposed a fine of $149,100 against an Austin linen company for violating federal workplace safety rules. It cited Texas Linen Co. for one willful violation—failing to provide employees with a hepatitis B vaccination within 10 days of being assigned to handle soiled health-care linens …

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A Dallas County jury decided that AT&T created a hostile work environment and retaliated after a call center employee complained. The jury found that race was a motivating factor in AT&T’s repeated failure to promote Lakecious Edwards and awarded her $411,339.

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What’s an attempted liaison by a same-sex manager worth in Texas? A jury said $90,000. Now a Texas appeals court has reversed that decision …

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Employers who don’t sign up for the Texas workers’ compensation system can be sued directly by employees who are injured on the job. But that doesn’t mean every workplace accident will result in a damaging lawsuit judgment …

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On July 22, 2008, the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) Office of the General Counsel issued a guidance memorandum addressing unfair labor practice (ULP) charges involving political advocacy. The impetus for the general counsel’s memorandum stemmed from a series of ULP charges filed in late 2006 involving employers that allegedly disciplined employees for participating in nationwide and local demonstrations …

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The Texas Supreme Court has ruled that employees who want to sue for most kinds of employment discrimination under Texas state law must use the provisions of the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act. They can’t sue under the Texas Whistleblower Act in an effort to sidestep the CHRA’s rather complex procedures or miss its short filing deadlines …

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Employers know they can’t retaliate against employees for speaking with EEOC investigators about possible discrimination … But what about simply standing by as a spouse or significant other sues the same employer? Do you have to worry that
any job changes for the silent spouse will spur a successful retaliation lawsuit?

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Public employers aren’t required to abide by all sections of the FMLA because they have limited immunity from federal lawsuits. For example, state employees taking leave under the FMLA’s self-care provisions can’t sue for money damages. But recently the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that immunity does not extend to a claim for reinstatement after an employee takes FMLA leave …

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Sometimes, you just know that the reason a supervisor offers in a memo or e-mail for wanting to fire someone is going to look suspicious if the employee ever sues. If you can’t persuade the supervisor to reconsider, resist the temptation to help sugarcoat the situation with a neutral-sounding reason. It will only make matters worse when the employee’s lawyer inevitably discovers the memo or e-mail …

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