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The HR Specialist: Texas Employment Law

Illegal immigrants who can’t legally work in the United States are still eligible for benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA), according to a recent 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision.

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The unemployment rate has been hovering between 9% and 10% for more than a year. Some of those unemployed people probably once worked for you—and they would probably love to list you as a reference. That means it’s time to make sure you have policies on how to handle reference-check calls.

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Surina Dixon, former women’s basketball coach at Texas Southern University, has filed a gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against the school, alleging that it violated Title VII by paying her half of what it paid the coach of the men’s team.

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A federal court has held that, under certain circumstances, the ADA may obligate an employer to accommodate an employee’s disability-related difficulties in getting to work. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that changing a part-time employee’s schedule to day shift—because her poor vision made it dangerous for her to drive at night—could be a reasonable accommodation under the ADA.

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Unions are stepping up their organizing activity, and smart employers are preparing by making sure their rules on solicitation, distribution and access to private property meet legal requirements. If you don’t have a “no solicitation/no distribution” policy, adopt one now. It can help regulate two types of conduct that unions depend on when trying to organize a workplace.

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Q. A staffing agency has informed my company that a temporary worker who was previously assigned to us is returning from a leave under the FMLA. What are our obligations to this individual?

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Some employees may want to save up their FMLA leave for an anticipated event like a birth or upcoming surgery. Even if they’re eligible for intermittent FMLA leave, they may request that they not be docked for the time off. If you agree not to charge the time off against FMLA leave, make sure you document the request. Then feel free to treat the absences as you would any other absence under your attendance policy.

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Here’s a bit of good news for employers facing an angry former employee who wants to sue but can’t find an attorney willing to take the case. Courts are unlikely to appoint an attorney to help with the litigation if the EEOC has already concluded that there wasn’t enough evidence to warrant taking up the case itself.

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The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to expand the ways in which employees can charge their employers with age discrimination. It ruled that the ADEA pre-empts Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act when it comes to age discrimination.

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Houston Mayor Annise Parker has signed an executive order protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) city employees “at every level of municipal government” from discrimination and harassment based on their sexual orientation.

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