The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law

If you punish two employees differently for what looks like the same rule violation or mistake, you’d better be prepared to explain why. If you are later challenged, you should be able to show that the two weren’t “similarly situated” and prove you didn’t favor one over the other.

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In light of the H1N1 virus pandemic scare, now’s the time to make sure your organization has an effective pandemic plan in place. As public health officials prepare for a vaccination campaign this fall, here are 13 steps you can take to deal with H1N1.

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Most of the time, employers can win discrimination cases by showing that the same “actor” hired and fired an employee. Courts generally assume that the employer’s stated reason for discharge is the true reason and not an excuse to cover up discrimination. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can be loose with your discharge reasons.

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When employers investigate discrimination claims, they don’t have to act like courts of criminal law, deciding whether an employee is telling the truth “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Don’t feel paralyzed if a discrimination investigation boils down to one employee’s word against another’s. Use your best judgment to decide who is telling the truth and go with that judgment.

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Do you have a manager who wants to discipline an employee who just requested a reasonable accommodation under the ADA? Before you approve the discipline, make sure the manager can document past problems or that the discipline is warranted based on a serious rule infraction that has happened since the request.

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Texas courts ordinarily reject noncompete agreements that require employees not to disclose confidential information if the employer has failed to provide the employee with that confidential information. But now the Texas Supreme Court has modified that stance.

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OSHA has announced that a Texas manufacturer faces $108,000 in proposed penalties for failing to abate safety violations after a worker died from an electrical shock. In January 2008, OSHA flagged six violations against JD Manufacturing, doing business as Arrow Waste.

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The difference between winning lawsuits and losing them often comes down to good record-keeping. When an employee sues for discrimination, for example, a solid discharge reason will trump the allegations unless the employee can show it was false or that others weren’t discharged for similar problems.

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A federal jury has convicted twin brothers from Brownsville of conspiring to obtain fraudulent work visas in exchange for payment. The jurors handed down guilty verdicts against Alberto and Bernardo Pena for obtaining visas for immigrants from India in exchange for at least $20,000 per visa.

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Employers now have an answer to their single biggest and most vexing question about the elaborate new federal subsidy arrangement under COBRA, but it may not be the answer they were hoping for or expecting.

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