Texas News & Analysis

  • Agency Action

    NLRB launches ADR pilot program. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced in July that it is launching a new pilot program to enhance the use of its alternative dispute resolution (ADR) program. The pilot program is intended to increase participation opportunities for parties in the ADR program and help facilitate mutually satisfactory settlements. Under the new program, the NLRB's Office of the Executive Secretary will proactively engage parties with cases pending before the Board to determine whether their cases are appropriate for inclusion in the ADR program. Parties also may contact the Office of the Executive Secretary and request that their case be placed in the ADR program. There are no fees or expenses for using the program.

  • Protecting data from departing employees (or why I love auditing and access restrictions)

    Countless formal and informal studies show that most employees retain at least some company data when they leave a job. The reasons vary from the benign (such as when an employee inadvertently keeps a work flash drive) to the more malicious (such as in the case of an employee's deliberate theft of company trade secrets for use at a new job). Motivation matters only so much, though, because even the innocent retention of data can have far-reaching consequences.

  • FMLA quiz: Test your knowledge on medical exams, return to work

    It all seemed so clear and straightforward back in 1993. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) would make life simple: 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain limited circumstances. But, alas, while it was "pretty to think so" (an Ernest Hemingway line), it was not to be. Read on to see how you would deal with the following medical leave challenges.

  • Don't ask about prescription meds without reasonable belief, objective evidence

    Q Is it legal to ask employees what prescription medications they use and whether the medications may affect their behavior or cause a safety issue?

  • High court upholds arbitration agreements that bar class actions

    In recent years, one of the most highly disputed issues in employment law circles was whether an employer could require employees to waive their right to participate in a class action lawsuit and instead submit employment-related disputes to binding arbitration. Such a requirement has become a common condition of employment contracts, typically entered into at the beginning of an employment relationship, and/or as a condition of continuing employment.

  • Planning and education are key to successful HSA

    Over the past decade, the percentage of employers offering a health savings account (HSA) to their employees has grown dramatically. HSAs are a form of "consumer-driven health plan," a category of employee benefit that strives to place more responsibility on employees to be better consumers of health care. In short, employees pay 100 percent of the deductible under a high-deductible health plan (HDHP). In return, they are given the opportunity to contribute to an HSA, which offers substantial tax benefits.

  • Agency Action

    DOL issues opinion letters on FLSA. The U.S. Department of Labors (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) in April announced three new opinion letters related to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and other laws. The letters released on April 12 concern (1) what counts as work time under the FLSA when employees travel for work, (2) whether 15-minute rest breaks required every hour by an employees serious health condition must be paid or may be uncompensated, and (3) whether certain lump-sum payments from employers to employees are considered earnings for garnishment purposes under Title III of the Consumer Credit Protection Act. An opinion letter is an official document authored by the WHD on how a particular law applies in specific circumstances presented by the person or entity requesting the letter. Opinion letters represent official statements of agency policy. (For more on these opinion letters, see WHD issues more opinion letters on pg. 10.)

  • Workplace Trends

    Women more likely to see pay disparity, survey finds. Nearly a third of women (32%) participating in CareerBuilders Equal Pay Day survey in April said they dont think they are making the same pay as men in their organization who have similar experience and qualifications. That compares to 12% of men who think that way. The survey also found that men are more likely to expect higher job levels during their career, with 29% of men saying they think they will reach a director level or higher, compared to 22% of women. The survey also found that 25% of women never expect to reach above an entry-level role, compared to 9% of men. Almost a third of the women in the survey (31%) said they think theyve hit a glass ceiling within their organizations, and 35% dont expect to reach a salary over $50,000 during their career, compared to 17% of men who expect that salary.

  • Union Activity

    Teamsters president slams threat to publicsector unions. Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa spoke out against the U.S. Supreme Court case Janus v. AFSCME during an April conference, saying the case is about politics and people who hate unions. The case could remove the requirement that nonunion members pay certain union fees to cover costs of collective bargaining. In March, Hoffa also met with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) to discuss the threat the Janus case poses to public-sector unions.

  • Beaumont firm learns that non-animus-based firings can get employers into big trouble

    Signature Industrial Services (SIS), a Beaumont petrochemical company, is caught in the middle of a costly lawsuit for firing three employees with the blood disorder hemophilia A. Although the employees' hemophilia did not affect their ability to perform their essential job functions, SIS realized that keeping them on the payroll would result in a substantial increase in insurance costs. Despite SIS's rationale, the employees claim they suffered disability discrimination based on their blood disorder.