The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law

An attorney in Texas Attorney Gen­­eral Greg Abbott’s office has filed a whistle-blower complaint claiming he has been forced to work in a hostile environment. Among his allegations: rampant discrimination, misuse of taxpayer dollars and falsification of hourly time sheets.

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Employees who participate in internal investigations into discrimination charges are protected from retaliation. That’s why it’s good policy to keep investigations confidential. Don’t divulge the names of cooperating employees to anyone who doesn’t need to know.

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Employees who file discrimination charges are protected from retaliation; any adverse action an employer takes afterward can be retaliation. The closer in time the two events are, the more likely a retaliation claim will stick. Your only real protection is having a rock-solid reason for your action.

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Most employers that use arbitration agreements require employees to sign them. If that’s your practice, don’t worry about getting the company’s “signature” on the dotted line. As long as the company can show it intends to be bound by the agreement, it is valid with just the em­­ployee’s signature.

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If a prehire drug test is inconclusive, you may want to offer the applicant a second chance to take the test.

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Despite the FMLA’s protections, supervisors are free to insist on consistent attendance. They can require employees to meet job goals as long as they don’t interfere with their FMLA rights and don’t treat them differently than employees who haven’t exercised their FMLA rights. Simply put, reg­­ular attendance is a reasonable work expectation.

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You can reasonably expect em­­ployees to cooperate with internal investigations so you can get all the facts and make well-informed decisions. You can and should discipline workers who won’t assist.

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Some employees just aren’t team players. In some jobs, that doesn’t really matter. But in others, it does—and employers have the right to expect employees to get along with others, including their supervisors. If they can’t or won’t, it’s perfectly legal to terminate for insubordination.

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Transportation giant J.B. Hunt has agreed to revise its hiring policy that the EEOC claimed prohibited hiring anyone with a criminal record. The case began with a single black applicant who was denied a truck driving position because he had been convicted of a crime.

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The nation’s largest producer of fresh eggs is being sued after it fired a black employee who had complained about racial and sexual harassment at the company’s farm in Waelder.

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