The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law

The U.S. Department of Labor considers the minimum job requirements for a position—not the people who hold those jobs—when determining whether the employees are nonexempt, hourly workers or exempt under the FLSA. If you hire overqualified applicants, their training and experience doesn’t transform the job from hourly to exempt.

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Before disciplining an employee who says she did what she did because her supervisor told her it was OK, make sure others following the same informal rule were treated the same. If you fire or demote one, you must fire or demote the other.

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The DOL is suing a Keene-based rehabilitation therapy practice after investigators discovered that the owner had been deducting retirement plan contributions from employees’ paychecks for the past two years without forwarding any money to the plan.

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Texas public employees are protected from retaliation for reporting wrongdoing to an appropriate law enforcement agency. But except in very rare cases, it’s not enough to file an internal complaint that someone within the employee’s agency is breaking the law.

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Few people like working in a place where supervisors and co-workers make smart comments, raise their voices or engage in other anti-social (and unpleasant) behavior. But that doesn’t mean that sensitive employees can sue their employers anytime their feelings are bruised.

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A Popeyes Chicken franchise in Tyler has agreed to settle an EEOC disability discrimination suit filed on behalf of an applicant who had several years of experience in the restaurant business. The alleged reason he wasn’t hired: His HIV status.

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Employees alleging discrimination or retaliation for engaging in protected activity have to show they suffered an adverse employment action. Typically, that means they were fired, demoted or transferred to a less desirable position. But what if the employer simply removes responsibilities, even as the worker retains his title, pay and benefits?

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San Antonio-based Costa Solutions has agreed to pay 63 current and former employees $146,459 in back pay and overtime following a DOL investigation. Costa provides logistics and freight-handling services to retail business, including the H-E-B Grocery chain.

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Employees who report what they perceive as offensive sexual conduct to their employer may think they are engaged in so-called protected activity. That’s rarely the case. While the sexual activity they observe may indeed be offensive in the workplace, reporting it doesn’t mean the employee suddenly has protection from retaliation.

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Answering reference calls? Don’t think all responses are protected by “free speech” rights.

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