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Houston Employment Law Blog


Ex-fire fighter wins years long sexual harassment suit

Texas and federal law prohibit employers from discriminating against and harassing their employees due to their sexual orientation, gender or both. However, that does not mean that it never happens. In fact, sexual harassment and discrimination on the job occurs nearly every day somewhere across the country and at least some of the victims file lawsuits seeking restitution for the damage done to them.

For example, a former fire fighter recently won a lawsuit against the city in which she worked for the fire department. After a trial that lasted eight days, the jury entered a verdict in her favor in the amount of $806,000. She was awarded $545,000 for future wages that she would have earned if she had not been the victim of a retaliation and $161,000 for emotional distress, along with $100,000 in punitive damages.

Former police academy recruit wins age discrimination case

Many Texas residents already know that as the average age of United States residents increases, it is more often acknowledged that age should not make as much of a difference in many industries. However, that does not keep those in certain professions from wanting to exclude people over a certain age. This type of age discrimination is against federal and state law in many cases.

For instance, an out-of-state man filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that he was discriminated against due to his age. The 54-year-old man was ousted from the police academy in his city in Aug. 2012. He claimed that an officer at the academy subjected him to significant discrimination based on his age before that officer terminated him from the academy.

Diving coach gets slap on the wrist for sexual harassment

In Aug. 2015, a male employee of a prominent West Coast university finally made an official complaint against the school's diving coach. He claimed that he was the victim of continuous and pervasive sexual harassment that only got worse when another employee quit. Texas readers might be surprised to know that for all that the employee was put through, the university merely fined the diving coach $455.30 in pay, and he was not even suspended.

According to the complaint, the employee's position at the university required him to interact with the coach. He took the abuse for approximately 18 months before finally deciding to put an end to it. He claimed that the coach even solicited sexual favors from him for money in front of students.

Did sexual harassment claim lead to woman being fired?

Every worker in Texas is entitled to a workplace free from discrimination and harassment. Most employers have policies and procedures in place to prevent a hostile work environment, but not every company's employees, supervisors and managers adhere to these legally mandated restrictions. When a worker files a sexual harassment claim with a supervisor, it is expected that the allegations will be taken seriously. If that does not happen, the victim has the right to pursue all of the legal remedies available.

For example, a woman recently filed a lawsuit against her employer and others after she was wrongfully terminated. A company hired her as a security guard in her state. Not too long after she started working, her co-worker asked her to go with him to a hotel -- presumably for the purpose of having sex.

Man sues former employer for FMLA violations among other claims

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows qualified employees to take a certain amount of unpaid leave for a variety of reasons specified in the federal law. The provisions of the FMLA are designed to give employees here in Texas and across the country the peace of mind that they will not lose their jobs if they have to be out of work for an extended period for a qualifying event. If an employer violates the act and wrongfully terminates a worker, a lawsuit might be appropriate.

A man from another state who alleges that he was wrongfully terminated because the company for which he worked violated the provisions of the FMLA, along with the Employee and Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), recently filed such a lawsuit. On April 13, 2015, the man fractured his hand. He claims that he immediately filed for short-term disability and extended leave under FMLA since the man's doctor notified him and his then employer that he would be out until May 18, 2015.

Do you qualify for unpaid leave under FMLA?

Texas workers might know that they could be eligible for unpaid leave under the federal Family Medical Leave Act. However few people really understand what it takes to qualify for FMLA. Below is a summary of the eligibility requirements and what it covers.

An employee may take 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12 month period without having to worry about losing his or her job. There are three main requirements for FMLA eligibility. The first is that the company has at least 50 employees working within a 75 mile radius of the its site. The person must be employed with the company for a minimum of 12 months (second requirement) and 1,250 actual work hours (third requirement) before applying for leave under FMLA.

Sexual harassment suit filed against dean of prominent law school

Numerous stories have appeared in the news lately here in Texas and elsewhere regarding prolific sexual harassment on college campuses. Many of the stories focus on students who are experiencing this issue, but college campuses are also a place of work for many people. This fact was pointed out recently by a woman who has filed a sexual harassment suit against the dean of a prominent law school on the west coast.

The 41-year-old woman complained to the school's administration that the dean made inappropriate and unwanted physical contact with her on a daily basis. He would kiss her face, give her hugs and rub her arms and shoulders. When questioned about his behavior, he admitted to doing those things but claimed that they were not meant to be sexual. However, he also admitted that he did not have the same contact with men who worked for him or with him.

Doctor who claimed retaliation wins wrongful termination suit

Many Texas employees would agree that when they see unethical or illegal behavior in their workplaces, they are duty bound to report it to administrators within the company. Unfortunately, such reporting can sometimes result in retaliation from the employer as well as the employee. Some people are even fired for it. Recently, a doctor claimed that she was the victim of wrongful termination when she told her superiors that she was going to go to authorities regarding what she perceived were illegal and unethical practices.

The woman, who was an internal medicine doctor in another state, began working at a hospital in her area in Nov. 1997. In March 2012, she performed a "cardiac work-up" on a patient in need of surgery. She concluded that the patient would not need a consult from a cardiologist prior to surgery based on her examination. The procedure was to be performed by another surgeon, and a cardiology consult was ordered despite her recommendation. She felt this was unnecessary treatment and billing.

Man wins close to $800K for his workplace discrimination claim

A man claims that he was denied a promotion because of the color of his skin. His case, filed in a federal court outside Texas, sued the city for workplace discrimination. Although his case has recently been resolved, he alleges that the city still has not made progress eradicating unfair treatment.

The plaintiff served as a police sergeant who tried to get promoted to the assistant director of the police academy. He claims that the then director, now lieutenant, told him that it was pointless to apply for the position because it was already relegated to a female black employee. This apparently was to happen under the order of the lieutenant colonel -- who also happens to be black.

Christmas party turns into a workplace discrimination lawsuit

A woman who worked for an obstetrician outside Texas alleges she was fired unjustly. She is accusing the facility and her former superior of workplace discrimination based on her sex. She has filed her case against the defendants in a federal court.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff was to appear at a private Christmas party to which she was personally invited. She claims that she already had plans with her family and was unable to attend. When she came back to work after the party was over, she claims that her superior began to interrogate her to find out why she did not make an appearance.

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