The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law

Work site enforcement efforts directly support the Department of Homeland Security’s border security measures, Secretary Janet Napolitano said at a recent border-security conference. She said keeping illegal immigrants from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border depends on making sure employers don’t hire undocumented workers …

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Like most employers, you probably have a rule that tells nonexempt employees they must take their meal breaks. The rule is there to prevent FLSA violations for uncompensated work. But having the rule isn’t always enough—especially if some of your supervisors encourage employees to work during their breaks or turn a blind eye when they do.

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Here’s a reason to slow down and act deliberately when disciplining an employee who has filed an EEOC complaint: A court has concluded that coincidental timing alone can be enough to keep a case alive. That’s true even if it turns out that all the accusations in the EEOC complaint turn out to be unfounded.

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Employers that need seasonal employees often rely on foreign workers to fill those slots. Workers from other nations must apply for an H-2B visa before coming to the United States to work. Until now, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals had not yet decided whether expenses related to H-2B workers’ travel to the United States had to be reimbursed by the employer. It has now decided that they do not.

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Employers know they are not supposed to discriminate against employees based on protected characteristics such as race, age or sex. But HR can’t be everywhere, and in large organizations, it may be hard to monitor equal treatment. A centralized discipline-tracking system can help you check for possible hidden discrimination by comparing proposed discipline against past discipline.

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Here’s an important reminder for all managers and supervisors: If the workplace becomes a battleground over employee religious beliefs, count on a lawsuit. The best policy: Keep religion out of the workplace as much as possible. After all, we’re here to work.

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An employee facing discipline may bristle if you choose to believe someone else’s version of what happened instead of his own. He may even offer to take a lie detector test to prove what he’s saying is true. You don’t have to accept that offer.

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Employees sometimes don’t do what they are told to do because they don’t think the task is possible or is too hard. If you fire such an employee for breaking a company rule—“Do what your boss tells you to do!”—you might be able to defeat the employee’s unemployment compensation claim.

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A federal district court has ordered Lufkin Industries, the East Texas oilfield and industrial equipment manufacturer, to pay more than $3 million in back wages to a group of approximately 900 employees who claim they were victims of race discrimination.

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A Galveston County registered nurse is suing the University of Texas Medical Branch, arguing that she was discharged from her job because of her race.

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