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Houston Employment Law Blog

Developments in Texas law surrounding paid sick leave

For many workers in Texas and across the country, getting sick is simply not an option. Part-time hourly workers often are not given paid sick time, so a sick day acts as a serious blow to their paycheck. But what if they could earn sick time as they worked?

The idea of “earned” paid sick leave has been buzzing around Texas’s governing bodies for some time now. As the state legislature takes up the issue, we’re looking back at how these policies have developed in recent years.

Can I be discriminated against at work for being depressed?

Most people don’t love getting up and going to work. But living with depression makes these daily tasks even more challenging. You are still the same person despite your depression—you just need a little extra help to get through the day. If you need assistance, federal law requires your boss to give it to you.

No discrimination allowed in the workplace

Work and social media Part II: Can employers restrict speech?

In Part I of this series, we discussed the social media privacy rights employees hold across the country – and the lack thereof in Texas.

In addition to accessing employees’ social media accounts, employers have also begun to monitor social media pages for work-related content. Employees have faced serious consequences at work for posts about company trade secrets.  

Work and social media Part I: Turning over passwords

Almost everyone, it seems, uses some sort of social media. And as these platforms have taken on more significant roles in our lives, employers have expressed concern over protecting trade secrets and other confidential information.

To combat these concerns, employers began forcing employees and job applicants to turn over the passwords to their social media accounts. In many cases, the employee’s job depended on complying. This issue entered the arena of employee privacy, and many states have passed laws to strengthen the rights of employees.

New rule deprives app-based workers of unemployment benefits

Workers’ rights advocates in Texas expressed outrage in late March over a new rule crafted by the Texas Workforce Commission. The rule makes it easier for companies that provide app-based services to treat their workers as independent contractors – meaning they will not qualify for unemployment insurance benefits.

This could leave millions of workers, whose livelihood depends on digital apps, without a safety net.

Have you ever been harassed or reprimanded for your hairstyle?

dreadlocks work.jpeg

Do you remember the New Jersey high school wrestler who was forced to cut his dreadlocks at his state tournament? The incident sparked outrage across the country. Has a school or employer ever told you to change your hair?

A new law in New York City forbids employers, schools and public buildings from banning hairstyle choices. This law is reportedly the first of its kind in the U.S.

How Texas cities are protecting LGBTQ workers

In Texas, if you lose your job because of your sexual orientation or gender identity, the city you live in can have a huge effect on your options. Neither federal nor Texas state laws explicitly make LGBTQ folks a protected class. If you were fired due to your race, religion or age, it would be much easier to challenge your termination in court.

For sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination, however, the law is not as cut and dried. An individual court could rule in your favor, but this is not guaranteed. However, at the municipal level, some Texas cities have taken additional steps to protect LGBTQ members in the workplace.

Supreme Court frees truck drivers from arbitration requirements

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that spells a big win for truck drivers. In a unanimous opinion, the Court found that employers cannot force contract truck drivers (often called owner-operators) into arbitration in the event of a work-related dispute.

The case

Men: Is my boss allowed to dictate the terms of my appearance?

Employers have the legal authority to create and enforce dress codes for their employees. However, there are limits on what they can require.

In our last post, we discussed some of the requirements employers can—and can’t—place on female employees regarding their outer appearance. In today’s article, we examine a few such issues that may affect men.

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