The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law

Employers that use the Fair Labor Standards Act’s fluctuating workweek method to calculate pay should take heart!  Making one innocent deduction mistake doesn’t mean you can never use the method again …

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You can’t just use a blanket statement (e.g., “granting time off will be expensive”) to deny a request for religious accommodation. You must be prepared to show the actual cost of the accommodation. That’s true even if giving someone the Sabbath day off means having to hire another employee to cover the time …

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In June, Gov. Rick Perry signed a bill that requires Texas businesses receiving taxpayer-subsidized, job-creation grants and tax abatements to certify that they will not knowingly employ undocumented workers …

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The U.S. Labor Department has filed a lawsuit against Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation in Dallas in an effort to recover more than $3 million the agency claims the company owes to more than 500 former and current employees. The Labor Department claims that Pilgrim’s Pride failed to pay employees for the time they spent putting on and taking off protective clothing before the start and after the end of their shifts …

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Q. We have a company policy requiring male employees to keep their hair cut short. One worker says we can’t force him to cut his hair because we don’t tell female workers to do the same. Is this true? …

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Q. Can we require a job applicant to cut his hair as a condition of employment even if he alleges that his religion forbids him from cutting his hair? …

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A court has ruled that an employee’s inability to go to work due to stress and anxiety about a pending termination or other performance issues may be considered a “serious health condition” under the FMLA …

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The success of your organization depends on hiring the right people. You spend a lot of time and effort determining the company’s needs and designing job descriptions that meet those needs. Don’t let a potential discrimination lawsuit ruin all that hard work. Instead, make the hiring process as transparent as possible …

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You know you can’t go easy on one person for attendance problems and come down hard on another for the same offense—especially if he or she belongs to a protected class. But, as the following case shows, courts will conclude a discipline process wasn’t discriminatory if you can show that tardiness or absenteeism affected important work goals, such as productivity …

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Sometimes, employees who have complained about real or imagined discrimination look for evidence that they’re being punished for complaining. Then, when something happens at work that may be completely unrelated to the complaint (e.g., a missed raise because of budget constraints or job cuts due to business cycles), they cry retaliation. Your best protection is to keep detailed records of all pay increases and merit payments …

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