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Understanding Background Checks and the Hiring Process

When employers are hiring a new employee, it is common for them to conduct background checks on applicants prior to making an offer or entering into an employment agreement. Yet it is essential for employers to understand what it means to be in compliance with federal and state laws concerning background checks, from gathering information related to a job applicant’s credit history to information concerning a job applicant’s criminal convictions. Federal Laws Pertaining to Background Checks If you want to run a background check on a potential employee during the hiring process, you must do so in compliance with federal Read more
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If an Employee Can Only be Fired for Cause, What Situations Apply?

Most employers in Dallas know that Texas is an “at-will” state, which means that employees can be terminated at any time and for any reason as long as the reason is not prohibited by federal or state law. For example, an employer cannot terminate an employee because of that employee’s age, sex, or race (and a host of other protected categories). However, some employees are not subject to the at-will policy of the state because they have an employment contract that states otherwise. Most often, an employee with an employment contract has a “for cause” provision in his or her Read more
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New Salary Requirements for the White Collar Overtime Exemptions

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) states that “covered employees” must receive overtime pay for those hours worked that exceed 40 hours in one workweek. In fact, the FLSA also outlines the rate of pay – one and one-half times your regular rate of pay. There are some exceptions to this rule.   The FLSA passed in 1938 and has remained a United States labor law since then. As described above, the law creates and maintains the right to a minimum wage, and “time-and-a-half” overtime pay when people work over 40 hours in a workweek. The FLSA also contains provisions to Read more
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Is Depression Covered Under the ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act)?

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a disability is described as any physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. Clinical depression is considered a disability under the ADA, yet not everyone who experiences depression is protected.  Business owners should remember that just as no two people are the same, no two disabilities are either. While physical disabilities tend to be easy to recognize, mental disabilities can be difficult to identify. Generally, the ADA is applied on a case-by-case basis, so employers do have some autonomy is working within the federal law and with their Read more
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Back to the Basics: What is National Origin Discrimination?

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal to discriminate, among other protected categories, based on national origin. National origin discrimination means treating people, namely job applicants or employees, adversely because of their country of origin, because of ethnicity or accent, or because they appear to be part of a certain ethnic group, whether or not this is actually the case. National origin discrimination also includes harassment of a person because of the national origin of their spouse or other person with whom they associate.  What Does Accent Have to do With National Origin Discrimination?  Those Read more
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More Females in the C-Suite, but Still No Gender Parity

Gender diversity has been at the forefront of the workplace equality conversation for a number of years. Recently, McKinsey & Company released its detailed 2019 Women in the Workplace Report.   The Women in the Workplace Report found that while the percentage of women in senior leadership roles has grown over the last five years, there remains a roadblock to male/female business parity in the lower ranks.  It is still far less common for a woman to receive that important first promotion.   The report states that for every 100 men promoted/hired to a first managerial job, only 72 women are given Read more
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Are Employment Handbooks Legally Binding?

Does your employment handbook contain specific language indicating that it should not be considered a contract? If it does not, then your company handbook potentially could be considered a legally binding document between employer and employee.  While rare, an employee handbook can inadvertently create a contract in certain instances. Legally, the key factor in determining whether a company handbook constitutes a contract is if the employer has issued a guarantee to the employee or if the employee promises anything to the employer.  Employment handbooks and their enforceability are important when it comes to dealing with employee discipline or termination. Certain Read more
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Understanding “Notice and Cure” Provisions in Employment Contracts

Although Texas is an “employment at-will” state, some companies utilize employment contracts with increasing frequency.  Many of those employers include a “notice and cure” provision in their employment contracts. When a “notice and cure” term is included in an employment contract, the agreement includes a length of time during which a problem, or potential terminable event, can be corrected before termination.  When the consequences of inadequate individual performance are spelled out, companies may find their entire organization operates more effectively. Identifying specific shortfalls in performance and allowing for their correction prior to termination can prove to be beneficial for everyone. Read more
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What is Associational Discrimination in Texas?

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination on the bases of race, color, national origin, sex, and religion.  The act prohibits discrimination with respect to a number of actions such as hiring, firing, failing to promote, transferring, or declining to hire a prospective employee.   Courts have universally held that Title VII also prohibits associational discrimination, which is the discrimination against individuals because of an association or relationship with members of a protected class. This protection is extended even if the individuals suffering the discrimination are not members of a protected class themselves. An example Read more
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Can Employers Dictate Employee Physical Appearance on the Clock?

An employee’s physical appearance in the workplace can be important to an employer’s brand.  However placing unyielding requirements on employees’ physical appearance at work could potentially violate federal discrimination laws.  Can Employers Impose a Dress Code?  Generally speaking, employers have the legal right to establish dress and grooming codes for employees. Some companies require formal business attire, some companies allow employees to dress down on “casual Fridays,” and others adopt a more relaxed dress code throughout the week. The Texas Workforce Commission specifically says, “employers can always require employees to appear at work with a neat and clean appearance, including Read more