The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law

Here’s something to remember when planning your sexual har­­assment training sessions for management: Be sure everyone understands that they must report any sexual har­­assment complaints employees make—even if the employees don’t follow the procedures for reporting sexual harassment laid out in the employee handbook or company policies.

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Here’s something to consider if a discharged disabled employee who simply could not do her job sues, alleging disability discrimination. Check to see if she has applied for disability benefits and get a copy of the application. If she didn’t qualify her disability by claiming she could perhaps do some work if reasonably accommodated, she may have killed her chances to argue she was qualified for her old position, too.

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You discipline an employee for a serious rule violation, perhaps by firing the employee. Because you had good reasons for discharging the employee, you may think that you can’t be sued for discrimination. That’s not necessarily true.

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Employees who complain about alleged discrimination, either to their employer or to an agency such as the EEOC, are protected from retaliation. Ordinarily, that re­quires a so-called adverse employment action like discharge or demotion. Lesser actions, such as a lateral transfer, don’t count.

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The IRS has begun to examine the tax treatment of employer-provided free meals, such as those famously provided by Silicon Valley tech firms like Google.

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Travis Transit Management of Austin has agreed to pay 600 current and former employees $655,000 to settle charges it unilaterally changed employee health, retirement and other benefits when it began providing bus service for Austin’s Capital Metro in 2012.

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An oilfield services company in Iraan, Texas, faces an EEOC lawsuit after its only female roust­­about was fired.

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Current and former employees of the Social Security Administration will receive $6.6 million to settle charges the agency failed to accommodate disabled workers and denied them promotions. A federal judge has given preliminary approval to the deal.

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It’s OK to occasionally deviate from the disciplinary process outlined in your employee handbook—if you leave yourself some wiggle room by explaining that some infractions are so serious they warrant immediate discharge.

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It may not be common, but reverse discrimination does occur. Ignore it at your peril.

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