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Houston Employment Law Blog

Government shutdown affects employment eligibility verification

It’s been over three weeks since the partial government shutdown began. More than 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed or are working without pay, and many more government contractors on top of that are struggling to get by—indefinitely—without a job.

While much of the media’s focus has been on the impact of the shutdown on these government workers, the suspension of government services is actually impacting people in all walks of life—all across the country. In many companies, employers are facing increased challenges in verifying the eligibility of their new hires.

Texas laws that protect at-will employees from termination

In a previous post, we discussed the at-will employment doctrine--which allows most Texas employers to fire their employees for almost any reason. We also outlined the core federal exemptions to this doctrine.

However, the federal laws only provide baseline protections from wrongful termination. The state of Texas has also instituted its own laws to limit at-will employees' vulnerability to termination. In today's post, we examine the Texas-specific laws that protect employees from unfair termination:

At-will employees: when your boss isn't allowed to fire you

"At-will employment" means that an employer may fire an employee at their own discretion and for virtually any reason. The termination can be without warning, and the employer is not required by law to pay severance to the employee.

Most Texas employees are presumed to be at-will employees. This means that, theoretically, if your boss doesn't like your shoes, they can fire you.

Can you be forced to retire early?

man leaving job.jpeg

Employment discrimination based on age is illegal in the U.S., but some say certain jobs are inappropriate for older employees. Unfortunately, too many employers hide behind this excuse.

Is your employer trying to force or coerce you into retiring early? Unexpected early retirement can have serious financial and health risks. Many retirement accounts and Medicare plans have a minimum age requirement. If your employer has attempted to convince you to retire early, it is important to know your legal rights.

Can healthcare professionals be required to get a flu shot?

In a previous post, we discussed whether an employer has the right to force their employees to get a flu shot. The answer, in short, is that an employer may enforce a flu shot policy, but employees have the right to opt out of getting a flu shot if:

  • Doing so conflicts with their religious beliefs or
  • They have a serious medical condition, which a flu vaccine could negatively impact.

Can my boss make me work on Christmas?

Each state has its own legal holidays—and its own laws with respect to employer obligations on such days. In addition to federal holidays—New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas—Texas also observes other state holidays. These include:

  • Confederate Heroes Day (January 19)
  • Texas Independence Day (March 2)
  • San Jacinto Day (April 21)
  • Emancipation Day in Texas (June 19)
  • Lyndon Baines Johnson Day (August 27)
  • The Friday after Thanksgiving (the day after the fourth Thursday in November)
  • Christmas Eve (December 24)
  • The day after Christmas (December 26)

Can your employer make you get a flu shot?

Influenza represents a serious public health concern each year. The disease is highly contagious and can spread through the air. Therefore, just being in the same vicinity as someone who has the flu can put you at risk of infection.

In an office setting, employees often work together in close quarters—increasing the likelihood of contagion. The spread of influenza within a workforce can disable company operations. Each year during flu season, there is a 32 percent spike in workplace absences.

Office holiday party liabilities – part 2

The holiday season is upon us. In many workplaces, this is a time of year when employees are given the opportunity to take a well-deserved break from their work and celebrate the season with their colleagues.

In our last post, we discussed sexual harassment concerns at an office holiday party. In today’s post we outline three other areas of potential liability at such an event.

Office holiday party liabilities – part 1

In many workplaces, the end of the year is often a time of celebration. It’s a time for a company to take stock of its annual sales, offer raises or bonuses as well as congratulate their team on a job well done. One way in which many companies express thanks to their workforce is by hosting an office holiday party.

While a holiday party can be an excellent way to give employees a break from the daily grind and build camaraderie among colleagues, it is also an event rife with opportunity for inappropriate conduct—and resulting legal action. In today’s post, we examine one area of particular concern when colleagues are off the clock:

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