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Simon | Paschal Says: A Time for HeaRt

This may seem like a funny thing to hear employment lawyers say, but now more than ever it is time for Human Resources to truly exhibit HeaRt.  Our capitalization and bolding of the word heart are intentional because as the great Michael Scott would say, “HR is in the word.” 2020 has been a tough year for all of us.  We have been socially isolated for much of the year.  We have dealt with the fear of contracting a virus that for much of the year was largely unknown.  We have faced tough decisions about layoffs and reductions in pay.  Read more
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Personnel Actions: Layoffs & PTO

As businesses and employers are getting a better handle on their staffing needs after several roller coaster months of COVID-19, the fortunate businesses are facing decisions about bringing people back to work who had previously been laid off and also addressing paid time off of employees that may not have utilized much of it.  With this in mind, employers should understand their options and any legal requirements. A common question we often get, and one we are getting more often at this time, is what requirements apply to employers when they begin restaffing positions that were vacant due to recent Read more
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Election Season Considerations

2020 is the year that everything that could possibly happen…happened.  It seems only normal, then, that 2020 is also the year of a U.S. Presidential election.  No matter where you stand as an HR professional on the political spectrum, you must navigate the election season in the workplace.  With that in mind, let’s discuss just a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, unless you are a governmental employee, you absolutely have the right as an employer to prohibit political discussions in the workplace.  The First Amendment right to freedom of speech does not apply to non-governmental actors.  Read more
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Supreme Court Update

While many of us were focused on COVID-19 over the summer, the United States Supreme Court issued three major decisions affecting the workplace.  Here is what you need to know. LGBTQ Protections The Supreme Court issued a 6-3 opinion in which the Court extended Title VII’s anti-discrimination protections to LGBTQ workers.  The majority decided the case on a very simple basis – Title VII prohibits discrimination against LGBTQ workers because such discrimination is discrimination based on sex.  The relevant language from Justice Gorsuch’s opinion below explains: An individual’s homosexuality or transgender status is not relevant to employment decisions. That’s because Read more
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COVID-19 Update

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues throughout the country, employers have continued to adapt and “change” has become the norm.  Now is a good time to take stock of where we are and what employers need to know about COVID-19 in the workplace. Families First Coronavirus Response Act As a reminder, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act remains in effect through December 31, 2020.  There is potential that the current Congress or, more likely, the next Congress could either extend the law or pass further protections, but nothing is certain at this point.  It is important to keep in mind, though, Read more
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Lawsuit Claims Violation of FFCRA

Employers in Texas should be aware of a recent lawsuit in which an employee alleged that her employer violated the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Even if you are an employer that is too large to be covered by the FFCRA, this lawsuit is particularly important for you to learn about in more detail. The FFCRA is only supposed to apply to employers with fewer than 500 employees, yet the recent lawsuit involves Kroger Co., an employer that employs more than 500 employees that, in theory, should not be covered by the FFCRA. However, the recent lawsuit suggests that, Read more
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Can Employers Require Employees to Self-Quarantine?

If you own a business and you are preparing to bring employees back to work in-person in the Dallas area, or if you already have employees working in-person at your business, you may have questions about your rights as an employer based on COVID-19 exposure and risks. In other words, you might be wondering whether you can take certain actions in order to prevent employees from spreading COVID-19 in the workplace or putting other employees at risk. So, can employers require employees to self-quarantine? In short, the answer is likely “yes,” in terms of requiring the employee to stay away Read more
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How Does Sabine Pilot Service v. Hauck Apply to Current Legal Issues?

In 1985, the Supreme Court of Texas decided the case of Sabine Pilot Service, Inc. v. Hauck. The ruling has become a significant one for employers in Texas because it concerns an employee who filed a claim against his employer after he refused to commit an illegal act. The Texas Supreme Court established a limited exception to the employment-at-will doctrine used in the state of Texas. Specifically, the Court clarified that an employee can have a valid claim against an employer, even when that employee is an at-will employee, if the employee has been terminated for refusing to perform an Read more
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Are Employers Required to Provide Appropriate PPE for Employees?

If you own a business in Dallas and have employees, you probably have a wide variety of questions about your responsibilities as an employer during the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued recommendations for safe in-person workplaces that include personal protective equipment (PPE), depending upon the type of workplace. Therefore, certain employees may need personal protective equipment who did not require it prior to the start of the pandemic. At the same time, many employers have been requiring PPE for certain employees outside COVID-19 considerations. Some jobs require PPE for compliance with safety Read more
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California Attorney General Says Rideshare Drivers are Employees, Not Independent Contractors

If you are an employer in Texas who hires independent contractors with any frequency, or even on a temporary basis, you should be paying attention to the rideshare lawsuit in California. As outlined in a recent article in The New York Times, California sued Uber and Lyft, two prominent rideshare companies, alleging that they have misclassified their workers and that they have failed to comply with a new California law regarding gig workers.  In the gig economy, many rideshare drivers, including Uber and Lyft drivers, operate as independent contractors, a classification that theoretically relieves Uber and Lyft and any other Read more