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Where’s the Line? What is a “Hostile Work Environment”?

Whether you are taking policy steps at your business to protect against harassment in the workplace or you are facing an employee discrimination claim that alleges a hostile work environment, it can be difficult to know what actually constitutes a hostile work environment. While you might know that a hostile work environment is one in which an employee faces harassment or discrimination, you might also be wondering: Where is the line? In other words, when does certain language or behavior rise to the level of creating a hostile work environment in Texas? Understanding the Hostile Work Environment & Harassment in Read more
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Tips for Crafting Severance Agreements

The prospect of having to tell an employee that they are losing their job is one of the most difficult tasks an employer will face. Employers in Dallas and across Texas often soften the blow by making a severance package part of the termination process. Typically, this will include payment and a severance agreement that the employee must sign. It is particularly important that Texas business owners create severance agreements that will protect the company and its executives from any future legal action from employees. An experienced Dallas employment law attorney can help your business craft effective severance agreements that Read more
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Is There a “7-Minute Rule” for Hourly Payments?

Anyone who owns a business in Texas and has employees—particularly employees who are paid by the hour—should be aware of their obligations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the rights that federal law affords to wage employees. To be sure, the FLSA governs federal laws pertaining to workers’ wages, hours, and overtime pay, among other matters. Generally speaking, the FLSA requires hourly wage employees to be paid for each hour that they work, but there are some exceptions. One such exception is often known as the “7-Minute Rule.” What is the “7-Minute Rule” and how does it affect Read more
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Are There Rules for Verbiage Used in Job Advertisements?

When your business is advertising jobs for new positions, you should be thinking about the specific language you plan to use in those job posts and how you want to frame the position you are advertising. When you draft your job advertisement, consider language selection carefully. It is important to avoid using language that could be considered discriminatory. The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) provides information about rules for job advertisements, and we want to ensure that you understand what you can and cannot say in a new job posting. Recommendations Versus Obligations for Posting Generally speaking, the TWC notes that Read more
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What Equipment Should be Reimbursed for At-Home Work?

If you have employees who work from home on a full-time or part-time basis, you might be wondering if you should be reimbursing certain expenses. In particular, if your company reimburses business expenses for employees who do not work from home, or if your business provided such reimbursements prior to the pandemic, employees who work from home may have already made reimbursement requests or you might be anticipating them. You should know that federal law does not require employers to provide reimbursements for expenses, nor does Texas law. One exception, however, is that under the Fair Labor Standards Act, an Read more
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Is the Biden Administration Eliminating Non-Compete Agreements?

On July 9, 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy.  The EO outlines a need to create a fair, open, and competitive marketplace.  A lot of the areas identified are non-employment related areas such as cable/internet providers and costs, farming, and government contracts.  The EO does, however, contain a paragraph addressing non-compete agreements.  Specifically, the EO states that “the Chair of the FTC is encouraged to consider working with the rest of the Commission to exercise the FTC’s statutory rulemaking authority under the Federal Trade Commission Act to curtail the unfair use of Read more
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Federal Court in Texas Confirms Employers Can Mandate COVID-19 Vaccine

In June, a judge in the U.S. District Court of Texas – Southern Division, confirmed employers can terminate employees for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine.  In a lawsuit brought by more than 100 employees at Houston Methodist Hospital, U.S. District Judge Hughes granted Methodist’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.  The employees attempted to allege that they were being forced to take a vaccine that they deemed “experimental.”  This argument was summarily dismissed as the Judge noted that Texas law only protects employees from being terminated for refusing to commit an act carrying criminal penalties to the worker.  Receiving a Read more
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Changes Employers Need to Know Regarding Texas Sexual Harassment Law

Starting on September 1, 2021, Texas’ sexual harassment law will have some fairly significant changes.  This past summer, both the Texas state house and senate passed amendments to Section 21 of the Texas Labor Code. The most significant change is that the law will now apply to companies with one employee or more (previously the law only applied to employers with 15 or more employees). The new law now covers every employer in Texas.  The definition of employer is also expanding to include individuals who act “directly in the interests of an employer in relation to an employee.”  This means Read more
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Amazon Abandons Arbitration: Should My Company Follow Suit?

You are likely already bound by many mandatory arbitration clauses tucked away in your contractual agreements, whether as an employer, employee, or even a consumer. This has traditionally been the route for companies hoping to deter class action claims from customers and employees, and to keep their disputes out of the public eye. However, after facing an unreasonable amount of individual arbitration demands by consumers regarding the Echo Dot device, Amazon jumped ship on arbitration due to the impending massive costs. Because of this decision, consumers can now file individual claims against the company or even group together in a Read more
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Increased Need to Protect Trade Secrets and Data with Remote Work

Every employer in Texas should be thinking about ways to protect trade secrets and take steps to prevent the misappropriation of trade secrets. Yet with increased remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an increased need for many employers in Texas and across the country to consider ways to protect classified information. Our Dallas employment law attorneys want to provide you with more information about why there is an increased need to protect trade secrets, as well as tips for keeping your business’s valuable proprietary information confidential. Why is There an Increased Need to Protect Trade Secrets with Read more