The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law

Gov. Rick Perry announced on March 10 that the state’s unemployment insurance replenishment tax will be suspended for one year. As a result of the suspension, about 370,000 affected businesses should see a tax savings of approximately $90 million …

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Pilgrim’s Pride Corp.—based in Pittsburg, Texas, and one of the nation’s largest poultry growers—will close a plant and six distribution centers because of rising feed costs. Blame it on the growth of alternative fuels …

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Sometimes, injured employees use up all the leave their employer or the law allows before they’re ready to return to work. If the employee isn’t disabled as defined by the ADA, you can remove the employee from the payroll. (He may still be eligible for workers’ compensation payments.) …

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Does your organization have a blanket policy that limits time off for any reason to no more than 12 consecutive months? If you apply that policy evenhandedly, you don’t have to worry that it violates the ADA’s requirement that you provide reasonable accommodations …

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The rise of class actions makes it essential for HR professionals to explore exactly how their companies dole out training and promotion opportunities. If individual supervisors or managers have too much discretion, there may be trouble ahead. An “old boy” network may be alive and well …

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Don’t let fear of litigation allow one or two supersensitive employees to squash reasonable criticism and destroy workplace morale. Take, for example, an employee who happens to be a member of a protected class (e.g., race, gender or disability) and always seems to believe that supervisors are singling him out …

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Do you have safeguards to protect confidentiality while you conduct internal investigations of sexual harassment and other employee complaints? If not, you should. If an employer is careless and allows word of the allegations to get out to people who have no reason to know about them, the employer may face defamation claims …

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A year and a half ago, the Texas Supreme Court clarified whether employers may require new and existing employees to sign noncompete agreements without changing their at- will status. The court concluded they can—as long as the employer provides proper consideration in return …

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Q. We had to fire a good worker because of absenteeism problems. When someone who wants to hire him calls to verify past employment, what can we say about this man? …

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Q. I own a home-health agency. Although my licensed vocational nurses are paid by the visit, my registered nursing staff is considered management. They are salaried. Are we lawfully required to pay our RNs “on-call” pay or mileage? Although it’s not documented as such, we have taken these things into consideration when setting their salaries …

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