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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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US Supreme Court Issues LGBT Discrimination Decision

On June 15, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 6-3 opinion in which the Court extended Title VII’s anti-discrimination protections to LGBT workers. Justice Gorsuch authored the majority opinion and was joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan. The majority decided the case on a very simple basis – Title VII prohibits discrimination against LGBT 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 it is impossible to discriminate against a Read more
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Employing Minors in Texas

Employing a person younger than the age of 18 requires adherence to a specific set of labor laws, referred to as Texas Child Labor Law. The law is not there to prohibit or impede the hiring of minors; rather, child labor laws protect the safety and rights of minors in the workplace. Learn Age- and Hour-Appropriate Hiring Rules The minimum age for employment, with a few exceptions, is 14 years old. Exceptions to the rule include working for a business owned by the child’s parents or neighborhood newspaper delivery. A child as young as 11 years old can have a Read more
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Handling Layoffs with Compassion

Proactive management is essential when a company faces the harsh reality of having to lay off members of its workforce. A transition process needs to consider the members who are separating from the team and those who are staying behind. Develop an Overall Strategy A comprehensive strategy should be developed as soon layoffs become necessary. The process should include the following components: The process of selecting which employees to lay off is a delicate matter that you must handle with great discretion. You should make these decisions behind closed doors, and managers must understand the importance of keeping the matter Read more
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Employing Interns in Texas

This time of year, many organizations start interviewing potential candidates for summer internships. Internships can be valuable both for interns and business owners. In exchange for work, interns can acquire on the job skills In many organizations, questions will arise over issues such as the number of hours an intern will work and whether or not an intern should be paid. It’s important to note that these decisions are not left up to the organization. The US Department of Labor’s Fair Labor Standards Act addresses this issue and sets criteria that companies must use to determine whether or not an Read more
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Legality of Workplace Monitoring & Surveillance

If you pay employees to do a job and provide a place for them to do it, the assumption is while they’re on the clock, they’ll be doing it. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Employers use workplace surveillance systems not only to be sure employees are working but also to maintain workplace safety, to ensure quality control standards are observed, and to prevent crime. But what about employees’ privacy concerns? What is allowed with regards to workplace monitoring and surveillance? Why Companies Monitor Employees Organizations have more to lose than just productivity. Common concerns involve the following: The potential Read more
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Creating an Office Fraternization Policy

If only good management just involved helping employees be productive. One of the biggest challenges facing leadership is managing the relationships co-workers have with each other. Your business should already have a sexual harassment policy, but that doesn’t cover other types of relationships that may cause problems. Let employees know company expectations for workplace behavior to clarify what is acceptable and what’s inappropriate. Whatever your choice about the acceptability of workplace relationships, you should have a written policy. Fraternization Dangers A fraternization policy is sometimes called a dating policy, because it involves romantic relationships between employees. Some employers think what Read more