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The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law

Jobs evolve and often become more complex, so it makes sense to revisit job requirements when someone quits, retires or is promoted. There’s no better time to re-evaluate positions to make sure the next job candidates will have the skills, training and experience necessary to succeed. But if you don’t document the changes carefully, you may find yourself facing a lawsuit …

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Nothing will land an employer in legal hot water faster than firing an employee who just made a discrimination complaint. At first glance, it will almost always look like retaliation. But that doesn’t mean your hands are tied …

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If you don’t have a sexual harassment policy (or if no one pays attention to the one you have), watch out! You’ll have to pay compensatory damages if an employee can prove he or she was sexually harassed—and you also could pay punitive damages …

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Adopt a “zero tolerance” policy for managers or supervisors who make racist comments. Those caught making derogatory or discriminatory comments (à la Don Imus) should be promptly shut down. If you don’t fire or at least remove them immediately, their words may come back to hurt the company …

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Have your employees lost a sense of appropriate workplace attire? If so, remember that you can enforce a reasonable dress code. Just stay clear of banning religious dress that doesn’t pose a safety hazard—that might amount to religious discrimination. On the other hand, you don’t have to allow the same employee to sport the religious (and other) symbols of multiple faiths …

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If your organization has a strict attendance policy, you naturally want to make sure you don’t miscount FMLA absences in the tally, or you risk an interference-with-leave lawsuit. But how are you supposed to know whether an absence is for an FMLA reason? If the employee never gives a reason for an absence or simply says he or she is sick, that’s not enough to require further inquiry on your part …

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Texas staff-leasing companies operate under the Staff Leasing Services Act. Employers who choose to use a staff leasing company can rest assured that, if the staffing firm elects to be covered by Texas’ workers’ compensation law, then so is the client company. That means that employees injured on the job can’t both collect workers’ compensation benefits and sue your organization for the same injury …

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While some may think it’s all in good fun, no employee should be the butt of bad jokes or other potentially embarrassing and humiliating conduct. Once started, such behavior often takes on a life of its own. It then becomes difficult to stop …

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A grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas indicted William I. “Willie” Brown, former president of the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local Union 237 in Texarkana, on multiple counts of embezzlement …

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Two Fort Worth construction workers found out the hard way that sitting on plywood in the back of a moving pickup truck won’t keep the plywood from flying away …

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