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Understanding the Whistleblower Lawsuit Against Attorney General Paxton

Who is an employer in Texas and who counts as an employee according to the Texas Whistleblower Act? Those are questions that surround the lawsuit against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is facing claims from four former aides under Texas whistleblower law. According to a recent report in the Texas Tribune, those four former aides to Paxton have alleged that “they were fired in retaliation for telling authorities they believe Paxton had done illegal favors for a political donor, Austin real estate investor Nate Paul.” The allegations made by those former aides resulted in an FBI investigation, but Paxton’s Read more
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Simon | Paschal Says: Be Careful with Kindness

It’s that time again for another Simon | Paschal Says opinion column.  This opinion deals with kindness and the pitfalls employers face when they are too kind.  Before you fire off that angry email to us about how important kindness is, let us clarify what me mean by being careful with kindness.  First and foremost, we advocate an open and inclusive workplace that treats all employees with respect and treats all employees like important and valuable members of the workforce.  That is not the kindness we are talking about in this column.  The kindness you must avoid is the kindness Read more
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The “Post” COVID Workplace

Anyone that has followed the news understands that COVID is not going away any time soon.  So while we think it’s important to talk about the “post” COVID workplace, it’s not really all that “post.”  That said, there are some new normals and some considerations of which all employers should be mindful. Vaccinations With the vaccination of Americans in process, many employers have questions regarding what they can and cannot do with respect to the COVID vaccine.  Employers are permitted to require employees to get vaccinated.  However, employers must make reasonable accommodations based on ADA-protected disabilities and sincerely held religious Read more
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The NLRB in a Non-Union Setting

Many non-union employers fail to realize that the National Labor Relations Act still applies to them.  While the NLRA is most often applied in the union setting, at its most basic level, the NLRA protects the right of employees to engage in protected concerted activity.  Such protected concerted activity can occur in a union or non-union setting.  With that in mind, we want to go over a few of the more common situations in which the NLRA affects the non-union workplace. One of the most common affected areas is employee handbooks.  Many employers remember several years ago when the National Read more
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Do Texas Employers Have to Pay Employees for Work Missed Due to Inclement Weather?

The recent 2021 winter storm in Texas shut down a large portion of the state for the week.  Lack of electricity forced the closing of many businesses.  Those businesses that were able to stay open had numerous absences from employees who could not travel to work because of the snow and ice or could not work remotely because of the lack of electricity at home.  A common question from employers is whether or not they are required to pay employees for work due to inclement weather. The answer depends on a couple factors.  First, is the employee a non-exempt (often, Read more
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Transacting Business in Multiple States

Are you registered to do business in every state in which you provide services? What about those states in which your client is based but you provide all your services remote? Or that state in which you have a remote employee who moved away from your corporate office when most businesses transitioned to remote workers in response to COVID-19?  For a lot of business owners, they assume that once they have established their company entity, they are free to transact business as they please (whether they established the entity in the state where their corporate office is located or in Read more
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How to Conduct a Remote Workplace Investigation

Given that many workplaces continue to operate with a largely or entirely remote workforce due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important for employers to understand the basics of conducting a thorough and effective remote workplace investigation. Many employers in Texas have developed methods and strategies for workplace investigations more generally, but some of those procedures may need to shift for a remote workplace investigation. It can be difficult to conduct a professional and effective remote workplace investigation interview over the computer, but it is certainly possible. The following are tips for employers who are conducting remote workplace investigations. Invest Read more
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Back to the Basics: Protecting Trade Secrets

When you hire employees to work for your company, it is essential that you know how to protect trade secrets and to ensure that employees do not use information they learn while working for your company in ways that ultimately could harm your business. One of the first topics of examination in any litigation over non-compete agreements, non-solicitation agreements, or theft of trade secrets is whether or not the employer took appropriate steps to protect its trade secrets.  What do you need to know about protecting trade secrets in your Texas business? You should understand how the law defines a Read more
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The Importance of Job Descriptions & Standard Operating Procedures

Every employer in Texas should understand the importance of job descriptions and standard operating procedures (SOPs) in running a business. Attempting to run a business and to hire employees without these guiding documents can create a variety of problems for your company. You should think of job descriptions and SOPs as roadmaps that provide a working structure for your company. These documents make clear how you are planning for the business to operate and how employees will work in varying positions to ensure that the business functions as you have designed it. Without job descriptions and SOPs, you could end Read more
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What is the WARN Act in Texas?

Employers in Texas need to learn about the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, and how it applies to employees in the state. While some states have their own state-specific versions of the WARN Act that provide additional protections to employees, Texas does not have one of these laws. Accordingly, employers need to be familiar with the federal WARN Act and any notifications they must provide under federal law to employees prior to a layoff or a plant closing. If you run a business with fewer than 100 employees, the notice requirements for mass layoffs or plant closures Read more