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The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law

Employees typically have to file EEOC complaints within 300 days. Some attorneys think they can get around that rule by shopping around for other laws on which to base their lawsuits. Typically, they try to find a common-law tort to fit the situation, giving them much more time to sue. Now that avenue has been blocked.

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Employees who have used up all available leave may want to return to work part time while they are still healing from an injury or illness. Whether part-time work is a reasonable accommodation under the ADA depends on whether all essential functions of the job can be performed part time.

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Frivo­­lous lawsuits can take up lots of time and cost thousands of dollars in legal fees before it’s all over. Fortunately, courts are becoming more willing to punish truly frivolous lawsuits and the employees who bring them.

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Here’s an easy way to avoid unnecessary litigation: If you are disciplining an employee for missing too much work, don’t tie absences to a disabled relative’s condition. If you do, you may end up losing an association discrimination case.

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There’s a fine line between spelling out expectations and unduly controlling exactly how contractors and subcontractors do their jobs. If you use too heavy a hand, those workers you consider to be independent contractors can morph into employees. And that can mean expensive litigation.

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Under some limited circumstances, employers may be obligated to suggest reasonable accommodations for struggling workers who have obvious disabilities that appear to interfere with their ability to perform essential job functions. But that’s really only true for em­­ployees whose disabilities are obvious and limit the employee’s ability to speak up for himself.

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The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear appeals of rulings that declared two of the nation’s most far-reaching anti-­immigrant statutes unconstitutional. The towns of Farmer’s Branch, Texas, and Hazleton, Pa., had adopted ordinances punishing landlords who rented to “illegal immigrants.” The Hazle­­ton ordinance also targeted employers that hired illegals.

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Some employers end up overpaying for time worked when, for example, employees continue to draw a paycheck while home on some sort of leave. But if you happen to face an FLSA lawsuit over unpaid overtime, don’t expect the court to let you credit those overpayments when it’s time to compensate unpaid overtime hours.

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A federal court has concluded that Texas state employees who take FMLA leave for their own serious health conditions can’t later sue their state agency over that leave. That’s because Texas has sovereign immunity from such claims.

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Employees don’t have the right to decide which directions they must follow. Unless there are clearly extenuating reasons (safety concerns, for example), you can and should discipline workers who refuse to cooperate.

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