The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law

Good news: The Texas Supreme Court has refused to create new liability for organizations that do work through independent contractors. The case points out how important it is to make sure independent contractors stay that way …

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Pregnant Texas employees are protected from discrimination under the Texas Commission of Human Rights Act (TCHRA). The TCHRA prohibits sex discrimination and makes it an “unlawful employment practice if because of … sex … the employer discharges an individual.” It also defines sex discrimination to include “discrimination because of or on the basis of pregnancy.” …

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A Houston-based seismic technology and equipment company is facing a nearly $1 million jury verdict as the result of a lawsuit brought by one of its former manufacturing managers. Input/Output terminated Gaines Watkins in 2002 when he was 68 years old, claiming the company was making changes that he was “incapable or unwilling” to implement. Watkins sued, claiming he was fired because he didn’t fit the company’s new youthful image …

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Employers at a post-Hurricane Katrina job site recently agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by the family of a Texas construction worker who died while doing repair work at a warehouse in Louisiana. Bobby Patton was working on a hurricane-damaged roof when he fell through an unmarked skylight to the concrete floor …

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Performance evaluations are important tools to help employers gauge whether employees are performing at expected levels. They can help organizations spot talent and leadership potential, while identifying areas where employees need extra training and support. Evaluations also can protect employers from frivolous lawsuits filed by employees who claim they’ve been demoted, fired or otherwise unfairly treated when the real reason was poor performance …

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Texas employers frequently face problems associated with retrieving company property from disgruntled former employees. Let’s use a hypothetical scenario to answer questions on whether or when you can make payroll deductions for the missing property …

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In May, the Texas seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 4.1% (from 4.2% in April and 5.0% a year ago), its lowest point since 1976. Texas employers have added 239,000 jobs over the past 12 months …

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Religious discrimination can take many forms, including, apparently the forced singing of "Happy Birthday" to that embarrassed-looking guy sitting with his buddies in the booth by the window.

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The FMLA guarantees a qualified employee up to 12 weeks’ unpaid leave and the right to return to the same job (or a substantially similar one) after the leave ends. But employees don’t always return …

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The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that employees who work more than 40 hours a week receive overtime for the extra hours. But many jobs and positions are exempt from FLSA OT rules …

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