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The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law

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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The Texas Supreme Court recently issued two decisions limiting when employers can be held responsible for the wrongs committed by their employees. The cases offer hope that employers won’t always bear the brunt of their employees’ wrongdoing, as has often been the case in the past …

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The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board issued its final report on the March 2005 Texas refinery explosion and fire that killed 15 workers and injured 180. The report details the safety lapses that led to the explosion and fire, which occurred at BP North America’s Texas City refinery …

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The U.S. Labor Department (DOL) recently announced that Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., following a 2006 judgment, has paid 211 employees $227,792 in back wages. The wage awards went to current and former technicians at its Houston and Bayport chemical plants …

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