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Simon Paschal Says: Flexibility is Key

It’s August 2021.  We all thought COVID would be behind us at this point.  We are all exhausted.  We are all mentally drained.  And as employers, you’ve spent the last nearly year and a half dealing with workplace changes, new laws, and constantly changing agency guidance.  Unfortunately, though, it looks like the rest of 2021 could be more of the same.  We’re here to tell you that you can handle it.  The key is flexibility. While you may be ready to return to the office, with variant surges and fewer public mandates in place, the best approach might be to 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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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