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The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law

These days, many employers are short-staffed, and feel like they can’t add anyone to payroll. Even so, it’s no surprise that disabled employees sometimes ask for accommodations that include providing help to do their jobs. Fortunately, employers don’t have to hire more staff to comply with the ADA.

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Courts don’t want to spend all their time mediating minor workplace disputes. Judges aren’t HR professionals and don’t want to run your business. Keep that in mind the next time an employee files a lawsuit based on one or two allegedly hostile incidents. Chances are, the case will be dismissed.

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Some employees complain all the time and don’t get along with their bosses and co-workers. But if their complaints aren’t specific and don’t raise at least potential discrimination based on race, age, sex or some other protected characteristic, their complaints aren’t so-called “protected activity.” Therefore, they can’t be the basis for later retaliation claims.

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The EEOC has sued Arthur’s Res­tau­rant and Bar in Addison for pregnancy discrimination after a waitress who was expecting a baby was allegedly fired when she was “beginning to show.”

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Oil and natural gas giant Shell Oil and refiner Motiva have agreed to pay $4,460,764 to 2,677 workers after the U.S. Department of Labor determined the companies failed to pay workers for required pre-shift meetings.

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Sometimes, the tension between sympathy for a disabled worker and a need for productivity leads to frustration and perhaps even ill-­chosen words. Luckily, one or two such incidents aren’t likely to end in a big jury award.

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“You have been sued.” When employers first read these words and realize the lawsuit launched against them is in a state court, most Texas employers—indeed, most employers—make it their first order of business to get the case moved to a federal court. Why? Defense attorneys cite various advantages to be gained from such a change, which is known as removal.

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San Antonio-based Taprite Fassco Manufacturing, a company that supplies CO2 regulators to the beer and soda industries, may get a bit of indigestion courtesy of the EEOC. The commission is suing the company, alleging that it demoted a female employee who raised concerns that men were paid more than women in comparable positions.

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Employers must reasonably accommodate employees’ religious beliefs unless doing so would cause undue hardship. Some employers take this to mean they get to decide what constitutes a genuine religious belief—and nix requests for time off for religious observances that don’t fit their defi­nition. That’s legal blasphemy!

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The U.S. Department of Labor considers the minimum job requirements for a position—not the people who hold those jobs—when determining whether the employees are nonexempt, hourly workers or exempt under the FLSA. If you hire overqualified applicants, their training and experience doesn’t transform the job from hourly to exempt.

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