The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law

When an employee finishes FMLA leave, she is entitled to return to the same or an equivalent job. The reinstatement provision gives employees some flexibility. How­­ever, it’s a mistake to think it’s OK to return the employee to any old job.

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Here’s some good news for em­­ployers: According to a recent Supreme Court of Texas decision, workers who complain to their super­­visors about alleged illegal activities aren’t protected from retaliation under the Texas Whistleblower Act. That’s true even if the supervisor is responsible for legal compliance.

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Here’s another powerful reason to maintain meticulous wage-and-hour pay records. If you don’t—and a worker claims you owe him money for unpaid work—the court will rely on the employee’s recollection or records.

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One of the best ways to fight hostile work environment claims: a handbook with a strong sexual harassment policy that shows em­ployees exactly how they should report problems.

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The fact that a worker may endure slights, insults or even plots to drive him out of the job aren’t necessarily the basis for liability. It’s up to the employee to prove a connection between incidents and something like his race, age, disability or other protected characteristic.

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If you are receiving reports that a manager or supervisor is engaging in name-calling, look beyond the obvious problem. It just may be that discrimination is a pervasive problem. It’s your job to bring it to light before it’s too late.

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Make it clear that it’s essential to complete time sheets on time. Dis­cipline those who don’t follow the rules. If you have to fire time sheet ­slackers, rest assured they won’t be eligible to collect unemployment benefits on your account.

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When you get a discrimination or harassment complaint, it’s essential to launch an immediate investigation. If the employee quits, continue the investigation. That way, in case of a lawsuit, you can show the court you took the complaint seriously.

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Here’s a tip that can prevent a needless lawsuit over FMLA retaliation. When a supervisor recommends firing an employee, make sure the final decision-maker doesn’t know about any recent or current FMLA leave usage.

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For the first time in 40 years, Mexico has instituted significant labor reforms, a move that has far-reaching implications for its em­­ployers as well as U.S. companies doing business there.

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