The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law

The U.S. Department of Justice is suing the Texas Department of Agriculture and the Texas General Land Office for alleged pay discrimination at the now-defunct Texas Department of Rural Affairs.

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When track coach and teacher Alvin Jackson was hired in September 2010, he became Frisco High School’s only black coach and core-subject teacher. Now he is suing the Frisco Independent School District, alleging that his contract wasn’t renewed this year because of race discrimination.

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Between 2005 and 2011, the Corpus Christi Police Department hired 113 male entry-level police officers—and just 12 women. The U.S. De­­part­­ment of Justice thinks it knows the reason for the disparity: a physical ability test that most men can pass but few women can.

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No one tolerates the usual racial and ethnic slurs. But what about novel phrases that aren’t in the common lexicon? Can those be the basis for a racially hostile work environment claim?

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Make sure that whoever in your organization handles FMLA and other leave knows to contact HR as soon as a leave request comes in. Then make sure you send out the appropriate FMLA paperwork along with any other required documents.

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The Texas Supreme Court has dealt a blow to attorneys representing employees in Texas. While employers that lose a lawsuit are supposed to pay the employee’s attorneys’ fees, there are limits to how high those fees can go.

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Once an employee has used up FMLA and other leave, requiring employees to show up and get their work done is a reasonable expectation. In the following case, the court reasoned that the employer could consider attendance when deciding personnel cuts, as long as it didn’t use FMLA leave as a factor.

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The Texas Supreme Court has just made it much easier for employers to avoid age discrimination claims. In what the court calls a “true replacement case” under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act, an older worker must show that she was replaced by a younger worker.

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Here’s a cautionary tale for super­­visors who have a learning-disabled subordinate. Do all you can to accommodate the employee and don’t let co-workers—or anyone in the workplace—make fun of disability traits.

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The run-up to an election can spark heated debate around the watercooler. Employers need to balance the interest of employees’ free speech with maintaining order and productivity. Draft a policy that minimizes distractions yet allows reasonable free speech.

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