The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Page 103
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The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law

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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The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the city of New Haven, Conn., violated the rights of white and Hispanic firefighters who took promotion exams when it refused to use the test results to promote the highest scorers. The court ruled that the city could not use “[f]ear of litigation alone” to justify rejecting the results simply because the test appeared to have a disparate impact on another minority—namely the black firefighters who took the test.

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Men can sexually harass men, and women can sexually harass women. The U.S. Supreme Court has outlined three ways an employee can prove that an incident of same-sex harassment is sex discrimination:

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According to a critical report surveying the construction industry, 20% of Austin-area construction workers last year reported on-the-job injuries that required a trip to the doctor, and 20% of those employees said employers refused to pay their medical bills.

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Many employers have rules that prohibit off-duty conduct that may reflect negatively on the company. But even with such policies, it’s tricky to discipline employees for the things they do on their own time away from the workplace. In fact, you’re free to use discretion in deciding whether an employee should be warned, suspended or terminated.

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Terminations aren’t always clean. Sometimes they’re damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situations. That’s often so when you conclude that an employee harassed another and must be terminated. With nothing to lose, the fired employee may try to concoct a discrimination lawsuit.

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Be careful if you transfer an employee who filed a discrimination complaint to another position. Even if the new job provides the same benefits and pay, it may look like retaliation if the position comes with fewer advancement opportunities.

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Here’s another reason to act fast when an employee says a co-worker has sexually harassed her: Employers that act quickly seldom lose sexual harassment lawsuits if their action stops the harassment.

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Rosanne Piatt, an instructor at St. Mary’s University School of Law, recently filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC and the Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division. She claims the university discriminated against her on the basis of her age and gender.

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