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Houston Employment Law Blog

SCOTUS delivers discouraging news for mistreated employees

It has become increasingly common in recent years for employers to require their employees to sign an arbitration agreement when they start working at a company. Under this agreement, employees waive their rights to sue in the event that the employer behaves improperly. Instead, employees must pursue legal action through arbitration.

Arbitration avoids a trial, and there is no jury. Instead, an arbitrator—often a retired judge or lawyer—hears limited testimony from both parties and makes a decision—which is legally binding and cannot be appealed. Many employment arbitration agreements also have nondisclosure provisions—which prevent employees from talking about any workplace dispute with others.

What to do when you overhear racist comments at work

You’re at your cubicle at work, minding your own business. In a neighboring cubicle, your manager strikes up a conversation with a colleague. She brings up a police shooting that happened the week before, which resulted in the murder of an innocent black man. To your horror, you overhear your boss making fun of the victim—even blaming him for being shot.

You feel sickened by your boss’s inappropriate workplace behavior. You slump into your seat. On your lunch break, you mention the incident to some friends, asking for advice about what you should do. “What does it matter to you?”, they respond. “You’re not even black.” This reaction disgusts you even more. You know your boss’s behavior is wrong. But you’re unsure of what you can do about it.

Can an interviewer ask you about your salary history?

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During the interview process for your current job, were you asked about your salary history? Do you know if your wage and benefits are based on what you made in your former job?

The wage gap between male and female employees will continue so long as interviewers can ask about your past salaries and benefits. The reason for this is that most job offers are made based on what you were earning. This often means that a man is likely to receive a higher offer than a woman for the same job.

Should I hire a lawyer for my employment law issue?

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At some point in your life, you may need the services of a lawyer. If you are involved in a disagreement or dispute with your employer or are dealing with mistreatment in the workplace, an attorney can educate you about your rights and help guide you to the best possible solution.

Why do I need a lawyer?

Can an interview question perpetuate gender-based discrimination?

You’ve probably heard that women earn an average of 20 percent less than what men in the same position make. From the moment a woman enters the workforce, this unequal footing sets her on a disadvantaged trajectory for her entire career.

When a woman decides to move into a new position, she’ll typically be asked about her salary at her previous job. As this salary is likely lower than her male counterparts applying for the same role, it will negatively impact her negotiating power and starting salary in her new role. At each change in her career, her comparatively lower salary from her previous job further exacerbates the gender-based wage gap.

Are temp workers protected from workplace discrimination?

Temporary workers typically don’t have the most illustrious jobs. As a temp, you may be treated like a second-class citizen in the workplace. Perhaps the company you’re working at needed some extra hands during the holiday rush, so they contracted you to help out with basic, menial tasks. Consequently, they treat you like a low-status laborer with no real skills or substance. Perhaps your temporary status excludes you from team meetings—which are only reserved for permanent employees. On top of that, you have no sense of job security, because as a temp, your boss can cancel your contract at the drop of a hat.

While some disadvantages may just come with the territory of being a temp worker, your temporary status still entitles you to basic protections in the workplace. In this post we examine your legal rights as a temp:

How do I prove workplace discrimination?

If your employer is treating you in a discriminatory way, you may know that you have rights under federal law, which protect you against adverse action based on your race, ethnicity, gender, religion, pregnancy, age or disability. However, understanding that your employer’s behavior is illegal and proving it’s illegal are two very different matters.

How do you prove your discrimination case in court? In this post, we provide an overview of what’s necessary:

EEOC sues Texas sports bar for pregnancy discrimination

Off the Air, II, Inc. is a sports bar based in Rowlett, Texas which operates under the name Nick’s Sports Grill. Bartender Taylor King had a successful tenure at the bar. However, when she became pregnant and could no longer fit into the skin-tight company uniform—a form-fitting shirt and hot pants—the company let her go.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit against the company on King’s behalf. The suit cited pregnancy discrimination—which employees are federally protected from under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. While it is legal for a business to enforce an immodest dress code, firing an employee who can no longer wear the uniform due to pregnancy is a form of sex discrimination.

Core considerations in hiring an employment lawyer

Chances are, if you’re looking into hiring an employment lawyer, it’s your first time. Most people don’t experience employment-related disputes regularly, so when they encounter the need for employment counsel, the legal process is unfamiliar.

In this post, we examine some of the key questions you should ask any employment lawyer who will be potentially handling your case.

How to avoid legal trouble when providing an employee reference

As an employer, providing a work reference for a past employee can be tricky. It’s your job to make sure the information you’re providing gets into the right hands. In addition, if you provide a less than stellar review of the employee’s work, you could put yourself at risk of a lawsuit. Your former employee could sue you for libel or slander, or a prospective employer could sue you for a negligent referral.

It’s important to be truthful in an employee referral, but it’s also important to be discerning about the information that should and shouldn’t be provided. In this post, we examine a few good practices for employers tasked with providing such a reference:

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