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Are Employees Required PTO to Get a COVID Vaccine?

  Employers in Texas with employees who need or want to receive the COVID-19 vaccine might have questions about offering time off to get the shot.  Are Texas employers required to provide paid time off (PTO) for their employees to get the vaccine? Texas Law Does Not Require Paid Leave for COVID-19 Vaccines Texas currently has no state law that requires employers of any size to provide employees with paid time off, or any type of paid sick leave, for purposes of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, even if they require employees to be vaccinated. While it is possible that state Read more
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When Can I Fire an Employee for Conduct Outside of Work?

Texas employers are becoming more concerned with employees’ conduct outside the workplace, particularly when an employee’s actions are posted on social media sites and could reflect poorly on the business. According to a recent article in the Houston Chronicle, many Texas business owners have concerns about employee behavior negatively impacting the company, whether it is the employee engaging in political events outside the workplace or engaging in conduct that the business owner finds morally or ethically reprehensible. Yet many employers in Texas do not fully understand their rights when it comes to holding employees accountable for conduct outside the workplace. Read more
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Is a Business Legally Required to Follow its Own Policies/Handbook?

Business owners in Texas should have written policies and, ideally, an employee handbook that compiles all of the policies and expectations within the workplace. Employee handbooks can provide important information and protections for the employee and employer alike. Yet situations might arise in which an employer believes that a particular policy that is written in the employee handbook should not apply, or that a specific workplace policy the employer created previously should not be followed in a specific circumstance. In these types of scenarios, is a business legally required to follow its own policies or employee handbook? The answer to Read more
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Damages to Expect in Common Employment Law Cases

When facing a workplace claim or lawsuit from a current or former employee, it is useful for employers to know the types of damages they may be expected to pay in common employment law cases. Generally speaking, whether an employee has filed a wage and hour violation claim, an employment discrimination case, a retaliation case, or a wrongful termination lawsuit, the purpose of the remedy is to put that employee in the same position that she or he would have been in but for the violation (although punitive damages are also often available). When an employee wins a claim against Read more
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EEOC Releases Changes to Compliance Manual on Religious Discrimination

  Employers in Texas should be aware of the recent compliance manual changes from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on religious discrimination in the workplace. The changes to the compliance manual focus specifically on religious discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As the EEOC explains, “under Title VII, an employer is prohibited from discriminating because of religion in hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, or other terms, conditions or privileges of employment, and also cannot ‘limit, segregate, or classify’ applicants or employees based on religion ‘in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive 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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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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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