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The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law

Sometimes, it seems easier to just make an accommodation than argue about whether the employee requesting one is really disabled. But does making the accommodation mean you agree the employee is disabled? The answer is no. If the employee comes back asking for even more accommodations, you still can challenge her status.

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Employees who sue for sex or other forms of discrimination under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act often claim their employer based discharge or other punishment on trumped-up charges. Employers can win these cases if they have good records showing their actions were reasonable and “in good faith” …

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While employees can file negligent-hiring and supervision claims when they suffer trauma at the hands of a rude and crude supervisor, such cases rarely end badly for employers. That’s because an employer’s obligation is reasonable and doesn’t require being clairvoyant …

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The U.S. Labor Department sued Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to pay approximately $3 million in overtime wages to more than 500 former and current employees. The department claims employee records at the company’s Dallas facility failed to show the number of hours the poultry-processing employees worked each day and the total number of hours they worked each week …

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The U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) announced that two federal contractors have agreed to settle allegations of hiring discrimination. Comark Building Systems, of DeSoto, agreed to pay $229,534 in back pay and interest to 740 applicants it rejected for the position of plant laborer. Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products LP agreed to pay $749,000 in back pay and interest to 399 black applicants whom it rejected for the position of utility worker …

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Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced injunctions barring two employers from enforcing “closed-shop” clauses in agreements with the International Union, Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America. In July, the state sued Deco-Akal JV, of El Paso, and Asset Protections & Security Services, LP, of Corpus Christi, for suspending or threatening to suspend employees who refused to pay union dues …

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The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas recently certified a class action of current and former participants and beneficiaries of a cash-balance pension plan sponsored by United Way of the Gulf Coast. The participants and beneficiaries claimed that the plan sponsor miscalculated early-retirement benefits when it switched the pension plan from a defined-benefit plan to a cash-balance plan …

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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued new final regulations detailing how employers must respond to Social Security “no-match” letters. That means employers that receive no-match letters now have new legal obligations when it comes to verifying and maintaining federal I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification documents …

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Q. How do I prevent employees from talking to a union or going to the National Labor Relations Board?

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Q. I recently received a memo signed by all four employees in one department asking for 5% raises. Can I have a meeting with them to let them know that there is no money for raises, that their department could easily be eliminated and that they would be smarter just to keep a low profile and do their jobs? …

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