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Can Employers Restrict Employees Online Work-Related Speech?

Many people mistakenly believe that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees their right to free speech under any and all circumstances.  The First Amendment actually states: “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech . . .” Originally, this law was created to allow for political discourse and dissent.  People could not be arrested for disagreeing with elected leaders or the government, and this remains the case today. So, while free speech is protected from government action, an employee’s rights are more limited with regard to their employer. In most circumstances, it Read more
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Protecting Your Company from Retaliation Claims After a Firing

Inevitably, as your business grows and shifts, employee turnover becomes a fact of life and it will become necessary to hire and fire employees. As you move forward in the life of your business, it is important to note that not only must businesses allow and provide mechanisms for employees to report claims of discrimination and harassment, but also prove that any firing following a complaint of discrimination or harassment was not retaliation for that employee’s complaint. Some examples of workplace retaliation include demotions, reassignments, reduced pay, or even termination. To ensure that you are operating in a just and Read more
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Preparing for a Form I-9 Audit From ICE

The employment eligibility requirement form, or the Form I-9, aims to verify the identity of an individual and whether he or she is employable in the United States. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, all U.S. employers must complete a Form I-9 for each paid employee – both citizens and noncitizens.  There is one exception: employees hired before November 6, 1986 who are still employed at the same organization do not have to complete an I-9. All U.S. employers are subject to I-9 audits.  Audits are most commonly conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the entity Read more
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How to Handle Workplace Bullying

Bullying takes place everywhere, from the sandbox to the boardroom.  In fact, a Society of Human Resources Management survey found that about 51% of employees have suffered from bullying in the workplace.  Our own Dustin Paschal even consulted recently on the book by Pete Havel, “The Arsonist in the Office: Fireproofing Your Life Against Toxic Coworkers, Bosses, Employees and Cultures.”  When people feel comfortable and safe at work, productivity and morale increase across the board; therefore, it is very important for employers to be proactive in containing and eliminating instances of workplace bullying. Is Bullying Associated with Other Concerns? Bullying Read more
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Retention Agreements to Protect Employers

An employee retention agreement is a contract between an employer and the business that outlines specific terms of employment; specifically, that the employee will remain at the company for a set period of time and be provided a guaranteed bonus after a set length of time. This type of agreement is designed to help your business retain valuable employees during periods of uncertainty and transition. For example, if your company is facing a merger or other management changes, then you may want to consider an employee retention agreement to encourage your most valuable employees to remain with your company during Read more
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Problems and Pitfalls with Workplace Investigations

Human resources managers and others involved in operations for businesses of all sizes often are tasked with performing investigations to determine if wrongdoing has occurred in the workplace. When addressing allegations of misconduct, employers and their representatives should approach complaints and investigations in a fair and objective manner. This can be easier said than done, at times. Problems and pitfalls can easily arise in these already sensitive situations; how an employer deals not only with the original problem but also with any new issues that crop up along the way can determine the investigation’s success and greatly can affect company Read more
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Is Docking an Employee’s Pay OK?

Employers use a variety of tools to manage their workers. Sometimes, employers choose to institute deterrents in the form of reductions in pay (docking) for unproductive habits or inappropriate behaviors in the workplace. While employers do have the ability to increase and decrease wages, when an employee’s pay is docked as punishment, employers might be breaking the rules outlined in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This determination is most important depending upon if the employee is considered exempt or non-exempt. The FLSA determines wage and hour laws for nonexempt employees. For example, employers must pay nonexempt employees at least Read more
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New TWC Rule Reclassifies App-Based Company Workers

The Texas Workforce Commission has approved a controversial new rule applicable to “gig economy” workers that would change regulations for app-based companies that hire contractors.  In a “gig economy” (a.k.a. “freelancer economy” or “sharing economy”) workforce conditions are such that short-term jobs and temporary contracts are common.  This new TWC rule change is particularly impactful for those who work for companies such as Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and the like offering home repair, food delivery, and ride-share services through digital apps. The rule, passed by the Texas Workforce Commission despite significant public opposition, would classify these workers as independent contractors. This Read more
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Are Managers Ever Personally Liable for Wage & Hour Violations?

While companies break wage and hour laws all the time, depriving their employees of the earnings they deserve, the fault does not always lie with the company alone. A manager can be held personally liable if his or her company fails to adhere to the Fair Labor Standards Act’s regulations regarding overtime and minimum wage rules. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the definition of “employer” includes “any person acting directly or indirectly in the interest of an employer in relation to an employee.”  Personal liability attaches to a manager when both the company and the manager are found Read more
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Tips to Avoid an Age Discrimination Lawsuit

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is a federal law prohibiting employers from discriminating against employees and job applicants 40 years old or older on the basis of their age. The ADEA applies to job advertisements, interviews, hiring practices, wages, promotions, disciplinary actions, job evaluations, job assignments, and termination. For a private business to be subject to ADEA, it must have at least 20 employees. However, the rules outlined by the law should be followed by smaller employers in order to avoid the question altogether. Furthermore, Texas employers are subject to Chapter 21 of the Texas Labor Code which Read more