The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law

Do you have an employee with a spotty attendance record who suddenly claims she can’t come to work on her day of worship? Employees can’t sue for denial of reasonable religious accommodations unless they prove three things.

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Some Texas employers try to discourage employees from taking workers’ compensation leave when they suffer an injury. Instead, they encourage employees to use FMLA and accrued vacation and other leave. Always make sure employees volunteer to make that choice.

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Think you have plenty of time to investigate sexual harassment complaints? Think again. The fact is that even a few days of unresolved sexual harassment can become the basis for a lawsuit. Act ­­immediately to stop harassment or face the ­consequences.

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Courts don’t want to tie management’s hands; they just want to protect employees from genuine retaliation. That’s why the standard for retaliation is anything that would dissuade a reasonable worker from complaining in the first place. Most minor discipline doesn’t reach that level.

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A U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division investigation has resulted in the MCM Grande and MCM Elegante hotels paying back wages and missed overtime to em­­ployees at several of its locations in Texas and New Mexico.

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Employees who claim they were disciplined more severely than other employees have to compare themselves to similarly situated workers outside their protected class. They can’t claim someone in their same class got better treatment.

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The Houston-based Houston Ear, Nose & Throat Clinic will pay a former employee $17,390 after it failed to reinstate her to an equivalent position following FMLA leave.

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Can employers fire drug addicts? Or are they disabled and protected under the ADA and the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act (TCHRA)? That depends on individual circumstances and the definition of “current” addiction.

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In a stark reminder that the FLSA carries personal liability, three executives at Belton-based High Performance Ropes of America were convicted of felonies for their part in a scheme to exploit undocumented workers.

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The PDA outlaws treating pregnant women worse than employees who aren’t pregnant. However, it doesn’t require affirmative steps to help them deal with complications. Employers are complying with the law if they give pregnant women the same time off or temporary light work assignments they give other temporarily impaired workers.

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