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Drug Testing in the Texas Workplace

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, companies lose an estimated $100 billion each year due to drug and alcohol abuse. This is due to workers’ compensation claims, absenteeism, productivity loss, associated medical costs and employee turnover. If your company is considering drug testing for applicants or current employees, the following information will help you design an effective drug testing policy. Legal Requirements While it is left to the discretion of most private employers, employee drug testing is required by federal law for the rail, air or trucking industries.  Passed in 1991, the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act requires DOT Read more
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What Are Reasonable accommodations Under the ADA?

What Are Reasonable Accommodations Under the ADA? The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) offers workers protection from discrimination in the workplace due to disability. Employers with 15 or more employees must abide by the provisions of the act. In addition to prohibiting discrimination based on a protected disability, the ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations in order to allow employees to be able to do their jobs, and to allow potential employees to apply and interview for positions. But just what is a “reasonable accommodation?” And are employers required to grant all requests for accommodation? What is a Reasonable Read more
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Employee Data Privacy in the Workplace

Over the course of a year, employers collect and store a vast amount of private, personal information.  This may include dates of birth, driver’s license and social security numbers for employees and their dependents, private medical information, bank account numbers, and even biometric identifiers such as fingerprints or retina scans. Employers are then required to be custodians of this data, maintaining confidentiality while still using it for its intended purpose.  Just what are the requirements for Texas employers with regards to employee data privacy? Protecting Personal Information Various statutes in the Texas Business and Commerce Code protect employees’ personally identifiable Read more
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Religious Accommodation in the Texas Workplace

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees (in companies with 15 employees or more) from religious discrimination and requires that employers reasonably accommodate the sincerely held religious, ethical and moral beliefs and practices of their employees, unless doing so will be an undue hardship on the employer.  (State and local government employers must adhere to these rules regardless of their number of employees.) Unless the employer can demonstrate that doing so will cause significant difficulty or expense, failing to grant a reasonable religious accommodation may be determined to be religious discrimination under Title VII. Title VII Read more
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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