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Houston Employment Law Blog

Department of Labor orders school to reinstate instructor

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) determined that a flight instructor was wrongfully terminated after repeatedly raising safety concerns that were potential violations of Federal Aviation Administration regulations. It determined that the instructor was refused the chance to train students and harassed by the employer before being fired 2014.

According to the Department of Labor, the Orlando-based SIMCOM Training Centers must rehire the terminated employee and pay damages. The employee was protected under the Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment and Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR21).

Are non-competes becoming a thing of the past?

Just as certain as death and taxes is the reality that employees will leave. Sometimes for another job, sometimes for what appears to be no reason at all. A non-compete can add to the security that when your employees leave, they won't be able to take everything they learned about your business to the competition down the street.

The intent with a non-compete is a good one. You've put a lot of time and money into teaching your employee how to thrive in your business and utilize your confidential information to do so. The non-compete can keep that information from getting to the competition. 

Company to pay $110,000 in back pay and fines

Companies can make mistakes. There are judgment calls that leadership makes to ideally better position the company. Other compliance problems may result from a lack of good judgment.

JPO Contractors Inc. is an Alabama-based drywall and framing company that would seem to fall into the latter category. The U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division (WHD) investigated the company, determined that it must pay 43 employees more than $90,000 in back wages, and liquidated damages. The company had run afoul of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by misclassifying laborers as independent contractors rather than employees. 

Airlines continue to address harassment of flight attendants

Jobs in the service industries can be particularly challenging. Nevertheless, flight attendants would seem to have it worse than most. Not only do they work in close quarters with customers, there is a long tradition of objectifying or sexualizing the flight attendant.

While the rules for acceptable behavior have changed from the days when flight attendants were called stewardesses, apparently things have not changing fast enough to suit those in the industry. According to a survey of 3,500 flight attendants conducted by the flight attendants union, more than a third of respondents said they have experienced verbal sexual harassment in the last year. Of that group of respondents, 68 percent said they had experienced it three or more times, while the remaining said they had experienced it five or more times.

The Impact Sexual Harassment At Small Companies

The Wall Street Journal recently reminded us that sexual harassment has been just as prevalent in smaller companies as larger ones. The #metoo movement has or should impact any business and force it to evaluate its current policies.

According the article, the informal atmosphere is both one of the strengths of working in a small company and the source of its biggest problem when it comes to sexual harassment issues.

Do employees who use FMLA breaks also need paid breaks?

Your employee has a medical condition that requires several short breaks throughout the day. He was granted intermittent, unscheduled breaks under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). A few times during the work day, he takes a brief rest break.

Under the FMLA, these breaks are not paid. However, he has also been taking paid breaks with his coworkers. During an eight-hour shift, he will sit out for two more 15-minute breaks on the company's dime.

Many harassment cases linger in EEOC backlog

The wave of sexual harassment accusations in Texas and the rest of the country has raised numerous challenges. Legislators have been pressured to enact legislation targeting workplace discrimination. Employers have reexamined their workplace policies regarding sexual harassment. And everyday employees are speaking out in defense of female colleagues who have been harassed.

Now, a new challenge has arisen regarding workplace sexual harassment. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has been flooded with cases following the national outcry over sexual harassment in the workplace. As a result, the agency has a growing backlog of cases that has yet to be addressed.

Prior salary does not justify a gender wage gap in salary

Employee pay is a touchy subject. Many Americans don’t like to talk publicly about what they earn—and many don’t like what they discover if they do talk about it. When an employee at the Fresno Country Office of Education discovered she earned less money than a less experienced colleague, it turned into a court battle that might go all the way to the US Supreme Court.

When employees are absent longer than FMLA allows

When employees are granted leave according to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), they are allowed a certain number of intermittent absences. Usually, employees return to work after they have used up these absences. In some cases, though, an employee's leave will exceed the absences allotted by FMLA.

When this happens, employers are often left wondering how to deal with the employee. Reprimanding an employee who has invoked FMLA can be tricky. Employers must strike a balance between addressing the issue with the employee without violating the employee's FMLA-protected rights.

Report: Black employees often left out of high-paying jobs

The public conversation surrounding sexual harassment has alerted many employers to the problem of gender-based discrimination in the workplace. But there is another form of discrimination that has also seen several public, though less-famous, allegations: Racial discrimination.

According to a new report, many black employees are left out of high-paying jobs—and racial discrimination may be a culprit. Frequently, people of color report that they are not treated equally to their white peers. This may manifest in fewer job offers, being relegated to lower-paying positions or being promoted at a slower rate, if at all. 

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