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10 Workplace Investigation Mistakes to Avoid

Employers should conduct timely investigations when they receive complaints concerning safety, harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and ethics since various federal laws either provide employers a defense in lawsuits if they conduct investigations or require employers to conduct investigations.  In addition to any investigation, the employer must also take any action necessary to correct and stop the prohibited actions immediately.  Investigations should be handled properly in order to achieve a quick resolution and to avoid the potential for future litigation.  Here we review some common workplace investigation mistakes to avoid. No incident reporting System – Employees must have a way to report Read more
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Prohibited Job Application & Interview Questions

Allowed Job Interview & Application Questions Under various Federal (and Texas) laws, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against a job applicant because of his or her race, color, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), veteran’s status, disability or genetic information. While these restrictions would seem to prohibit a fairly limited set of questions, court rulings have served to broaden the scope of the law significantly. Consequently, employers must exercise great care or risk (intentionally or unintentionally) running afoul of these laws during the job application and interview process.  Here, we consider “What can be Read more
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Non-Compete and Non-Solicitation Agreements in Texas

Companies have a vested interest in protecting their trade secrets. To do so, they often ask employees to sign non-compete agreements, also known as restrictive covenants.  These agreements are meant to prevent an employee from leaving the company and setting up a competing business down the road using knowledge gained from their former employer.  Employers also often use non-solicitation agreements or include non-solicitation clauses in their non-compete agreements in order to prevent a former employee from soliciting the clients or current employees of their former employer.  For purposes of enforcement, Texas law treats non-solicitation agreements as non-competition agreements, so the information discussed Read more
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Terminating an Employee in Texas

Terminating an employee from your company is never pleasant or easy and the termination process should not be taken lightly.  Your company should have procedures in place to provide employees ongoing feedback so they know what they are doing well and areas in which they can improve.  Employees that are not performing adequately should be given a chance to improve their performance and there should be a process in place that documents counseling sessions and/or disciplinary notices, steps the employee has taken to improve, the employee’s progress, and any final results. This article does not cover that process but instead Read more
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Workplace Dress Code and Grooming Policies

Workplace dress code and grooming policies can help a business maintain an appropriate image, ensure workplace safety, and foster an atmosphere of teamwork among employees.  However, employers must take care to avoid creating policies that are discriminatory. Below we review some important factors to consider when creating employee dress codes and grooming policies. No Discrimination It is important to remember that an employer’s policies must not discriminate on the basis of age, disability, gender, marriage, pregnancy, race, religion, sex or any other category protected under Federal or Texas state law. When drafting your company’s dress code and grooming policy, make Read more
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Severance Agreements for Texas Employers

Part of running a business is managing the employee separation process.  Managing this process can be just as important as managing employees’ day-to-day responsibilities.  When employees leave your organization, it is often advantageous for the exiting employee to sign a severance agreement.  An agreement that properly outlines the employer and employee’s expectations will save time, money and considerable headaches in the near and distant future. A severance agreement is a contract between an employer and employee that documents the rights and responsibilities of both parties at termination of employment and beyond.  Typically, a severance agreement gives the employee payment in Read more
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Employee Handbook Guidelines & Pitfalls

A thoughtfully constructed employee handbook lays the groundwork for a strong relationship between a company and its employees. It outlines the employer’s expectations and lets workers know what they can expect from the organization. When you’re preparing your company’s employee handbook, refer to this list for the types of items that should be included and pitfalls to be addressed and/or avoided. Always remember, though, that every handbook is different and your company’s policies and procedures, as well as its culture and its tolerance for risk will determine what is included within the handbook. What to include in your Employee Handbook Read more
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Workplace Posters Required in Texas

Employers in Texas are required to display notices or posters in the workplace to inform employees of their rights and protections afforded by federal and state labor laws.   There are certain workplace posters that must be displayed by all employers. Requirements for other posters vary based on number of employees, industry, and other factors. Workplace Posters All Texas Employers Must Display Regardless of the business’s size or industry, there are a number of posters that every employer must display under Texas and federal law. These are: Employee Rights Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (lists minimum wage) Employee Polygraph Protection Read more
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Independent Contractor vs. Employee

Your Texas business may use independent contractors and employees to perform similar, if not the same duties from week to week. While the work they perform and their responsibilities may seem very similar, it is critically important that, as an employer, you understand the differences between independent contractors vs. employees. The differences between these two types of workers determine what types of laws apply to them when in your service. Misclassification of Workers Increasing Self-employed individuals have been providing services to businesses for decades, but there are more employment laws on the books now than ever before.  In recent years, Read more
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Department of Labor Audit Checklist: Wage & Hour Audit

Employers must comply with numerous Department of Labor (DOL) laws concerning employee wages and hours, workplace safety, family and medical leave, and special rights granted to military veterans in the workforce, among others. A DOL audit can focus on any area of employment law. The DOL has the right to audit employers at any time, so employers are wise to be prepared for scrutiny. In light of pending changes to Wage & Hour rules proposed in the Fair Labor Standards Act, we have put together a checklist to help you steer clear of trouble during a DOL Wage & Hour Read more