The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law

A U.S. District Court jury in Texas has awarded $992,500 in an age discrimination lawsuit filed by a former employee of the company that provides food and beverage services for El Paso International Airport.

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In a much-watched case, the Texas Supreme Court has refused to expand employer liability for employee off-duty conduct. That’s good news for employers, which faced the possibility of greater liability had the court ruled differently.

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Looking for a way to eliminate unfounded sexual harassment claims from former employees? One way is to make sure your sexual harassment policy tells employees to keep taking their harassment claims up the chain of command if they aren’t satisfied with the first response.

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Employees who complain about alleged discrimination by a supervisor can set up a retaliation claim if they are disciplined or otherwise punished shortly after complaining. Relying solely on the say-so of the boss the employee initially complained about may cause trouble if that supervisor’s reasons are flimsy.

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Sometimes, employers have to fire employees—even those who have recently filed successful discrimination complaints. Don’t be afraid to do so. You can beat a bogus retaliation claim by making sure you have good, solid documentation to substantiate the firing.

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An Alice-based oil field services company has settled a reverse race discrimination lawsuit filed by the EEOC. The commission filed the suit in 2008 on behalf of Bert Yaklin, a white parts-department employee of Coil Tubing Services, which supports the petroleum industry in Texas and Louisiana.

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The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division recently announced that MT Supermarket, an Austin grocery store, has paid $186,624 in back wages to 34 workers. The payment comes after an investigation of the Asian grocery store found violations of the FLSA.

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On Sept. 4, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that a San Angelo geological services company has paid $270,950 in overtime back wages to 70 current and former employees. According to Cynthia Watson, the Wage and Hour Division’s Southwest regional administrator, “Some employees worked as many as 85 hours in a workweek without receiving overtime wages.”

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Employers that round off the time on employees’ time sheets must do so in a way that doesn’t cheat hourly employees out of pay in the long run. That means that if you round down, you must also round up. Otherwise, your time records won’t reflect all hours worked, leading to potential violations of overtime and other wage-and-hour laws.

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It’s frustrating when an employee continually claims to be the victim of discrimination while internal investigations show that just isn’t so. If an employer is confident the employee’s charges are false, it can terminate the employee. That’s true even if you turn out to be wrong—because what matters is your good-faith belief that the employee made up the discrimination claims.

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