The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law

When a supervisor allegedly harasses a subordinate, all kinds of things can go wrong. But handled improperly, all fingers often point to employer liability. That’s why it’s vital to act quickly on any subordinate complaint.

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When it comes to discipline, the primary rule is to treat similar rule violations alike. That means you’ll have to punish all kinds of people for misbehaving, even if they’re members of a protected class. Don’t hesitate to do so if their behavior warrants it.

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Courts are cracking down on serial lawsuits, and the result is good news for employers. A former employee who sues and then loses his case can’t keep coming up with new claims to base new lawsuits on. If the new claims are based on the same set of facts—even if they involve an entirely different legal angle—courts are ruling the claims should have been brought together.

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If you think your liability ends when an employee leaves, think again. Employers can still be liable for retaliation if the employee complained about bias before she left and now claims you withheld compensation.

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Two former employees of Trey Industries are suing the commercial construction company, claiming they were fired after complaining about racism they experienced while working at a Marathon Oil facility in Texas City.

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Just when you thought you had implemented all the necessary changes to your family- and military-leave policies, the law has again changed. On Oct. 28, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2010 fiscal year, which includes provisions that expand the military leave entitlements of the FMLA.

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Oral agreements are as binding as written ones, but they can be considerably less precise. Consider this case, in which a disgruntled employee claimed an oral agreement affected future compensation:

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On Nov. 10, the Fort Worth City Council voted to amend the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance to include discrimination based on transgender status, gender identity, or gender expression. Fort Worth now joins Austin, Dallas and El Paso as the only Texas cities banning such discrimination.

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Employees of T.J. Maxx stores in Texas have filed a class-action suit alleging that the retailer stiffed workers out of regular wages and overtime pay. The lawsuit claims management required workers who exceeded their scheduled hours to work off the clock and told them to use vacation and sick time to cover time worked beyond their scheduled hours.

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Many union contracts specifically allow employers to terminate employees who are out on workers’ comp for extended periods of time. Of course, injured employees also use up their allotment of FMLA leave while on workers’ comp leave. The question then becomes whether employers can count the FMLA absences toward the number of days the employee is absent before termination.

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