The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law

When someone claims age discrimination, he typically has to show that he was replaced by someone “significantly younger.” What that means is unclear—and courts seem in no hurry to come up with a hard-and-fast rule.

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Have you recently hired or promoted younger applicants into management positions? Do they supervise older employees? If so, be sure to include age discrimination warnings in your training sessions. All too often, younger employees may make statements that older workers interpret as biased.

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The DOJ has reached a settlement with the city of Corpus Christi, resolving claims that the city police department’s hiring test violated Title VII. The DOJ charged that from 2005 to 2011, the police depart­­ment used a physical abilities test that unlawfully screened out female applicants for entry-level police officer positions.

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Here’s an important reminder for anyone who is authorized to receive internal discrimination complaints: Always mark the exact date of every complaint in case the complaint is used later as the basis for an employee’s retaliation claim.

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Sometimes, it becomes apparent that something has to change in a workplace. When that’s the case, firing everyone and having them reapply for their jobs may be a viable approach, if a recent 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision is any indication.

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When negotiating contracts with employee outsourcing firms, many organizations make background checks an afterthought and leave the specifics up to the agency. That’s a big mistake.

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The DOL has issued new regulations implementing statutory changes to the FMLA that increase coverage for military families.

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Roughly four out of 10 workers have dated a co-worker, according to a survey by Spherion Corporation. When office romances sour, scorned lovers often sue, alleging that their former lover was a sexual harasser. And even if the lovers are happy, workplace romances can cause problems in the office or on the shop floor. Based on all of these legal risks, should your organization forbid office romances?

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If an employee chooses to return to work in a hostile environment, that makes it much harder to successfully sue for harassment.

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Disabled employees may be en­­titled to some time off as an accommodation, but there are limits. If an employee is constantly absent when his disability makes it impossible to work, you may be able to discharge him. That’s because attendance can be an essential function of a job—and constantly missing work may show that the employee can’t perform that essential function.

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