The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law

Richard B. Roper, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas, recently announced that six more former Swift & Co. employees pleaded guilty to document fraud and illegal entry into the country …

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In August, President Bush signed the Pension Protection Act of 2006, which includes many benefits-related amendments to the Internal Revenue Code and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) …

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Q. Our new plant manager wants me to revise our sexual harassment policy to require that complaints be in writing. He says this will formalize the procedure and help ensure that only valid complaints are filed. I don’t think this is a good idea. Is it?

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Q. An employee who recently quit hasn’t returned a company-owned laptop computer worth over $1,000. Can we withhold the value of the computer from the employee’s last paycheck?

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Q. How do you pay hourly employees who are traveling on a day that’s not considered a workday, like Saturday or Sunday? What if they normally have a 10-minute commute to the office but instead they have to go to the airport, and the airport is an hour from their home?

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Q. One of our employees badly hurt himself when he tripped over some equipment that had been left by the building maintenance. Workers’ comp covered his medical bills and lost wages, but he also sued the building for negligence. Now we have a letter from the office building demanding that we defend them in the lawsuit and telling us we are responsible. How can that be? I thought we were protected by workers’ comp from any suit involving an employee injury?

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Just a few months ago, the U.S. Supreme Court established a broad new legal standard for judging whether an employer has retaliated against an employee for complaining about discrimination (Burlington Northern v. White). Now, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has applied the standard to its first retaliation case after the Supreme Court decision. The news is good for employers

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Arbitration agreements, in which employees give up their rights to go to court and instead submit their cases to arbitration, can be a great way to avoid unpredictable juries, negative publicity and the expense of a full-blown lawsuit. But if the agreement isn’t worded just right, you may end up with more expense and lost time rather than less

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Employees who think a supervisor is treating them unfairly and suspect discrimination often will look for an escape. One tactic is to ask for a transfer to another department or location. Don’t think that you’re required to acquiesce

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Nothing rankles employers more than being accused of discrimination when the statistics show that their workplace is a model of diversity and equal opportunity. You can turn those statistics in your favor

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