The Houston Employment Law Blog

The Houston Employment Law Blog - Find Houston Employment Lawyers

Avoid Jail or Lawsuits for April Fools' Work Pranks

April Fools' Day is nearly upon us. You might be rubbing your hands together, scheming a grand workplace caper.

But as a columnist reminds us in her piece for ABC News, sometimes an office April Fools' prank can land you a pink slip (or worse) faster than you can say "Ferris Bueller."

Here are five ways to help make sure your April Fools' prank doesn't fall legally flat:

5 Illegal Questions in Job Interviews

Small businesses looking to hire new employees need to know what questions are illegal to ask in a job interview.

Once business owners have determined what type of employees the business needs and how much they can afford to pay them, it's time to figure out what questions to ask in the interview.

To get you started, here are five illegal questions you shouldn't ask in a job interview.

Can You Be Fired For Being Gay?

A poll taken in 2011 showed that 90 percent of Americans mistakenly believed Congress had already passed a law granting protections against anti-gay discrimination.

But in 29 states, including Texas, you can get fired for being gay. This is because there is currently no federal, state or local law in place protecting members of the LGBT community from employment discrimination in Houston.

But the law in Houston may soon change.

Am I a Tax-Exempt Business?

With tax season heating up, many Texas businesses may be wondering if they're tax-exempt.

For the most part, all businesses are subject to franchise tax unless an exemption has been recognized by the state or IRS. No business is automatically exempt and must apply for exemption with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

So what businesses are eligible for tax-exempt status?

Can Texas Employers Ban Breastfeeding?

Following the public outcry over a Victoria's Secret customer who was not allowed to breastfeed in a fitting room, customers and business owners alike are wondering whether Texas employers can legally ban breastfeeding.

The answer to that question depends on a range of factors, including a woman's right to breastfeed and her right to accommodations.

Mayor Parker Calls For LGBT Non-Discrimination Law

In her final inaugural address, Houston Mayor Annise Parker, the first openly gay mayor of a major American city, repeated her call for the City Council to pass an LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance. Similar legislation has been proposed in the past, but to no avail.

Houston is the only major city in Texas that does not offer comprehensive citywide LGBT protections, according to the Lone Star Q.

Can You Legally Record Employees at Work?

A recent ruling from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has upheld Whole Foods' ban on recording employees at work.

The ban, which is contained in Whole Foods General Information Guide, states that it's a violation to record conversations with a tape recorder (or other recording device) unless there was prior approval.

What did the judge conclude regarding this policy? Also, can you legally record employees at your place of work?

What Legal Protections Exist for Interns?

If you're an intern currently, do you have any legal protections? Interns have been the subject of a lot of legal controversy lately -- in New York, for example, a federal judge ruled unpaid interns don't have a right to sue for harassment because they're not employees.

This problematic ruling does not necessarily mean that interns don't have any rights. But, some rights are limited or just not addressed under labor laws when it comes to interns. Here's a general overview of what interns in Texas have and don't have rights to.

Can You Be Fired for Telling Your Boss You're Trans?

In Texas, can you be fired for telling your boss that you're transgender?

Unfortunately, this has happened before and there's no outright guarantee in the law to prevent it from happening again. But, there are definitely certain laws in place that can protect those who are transgender. On top of that, recent national cases have also given a nod to supporting transgender protections in the workplace.

What if you're in Texas and trans, though? Here's what your rights may look like:

Drug Testing In The Workplace: An Overview

What does Texas law say when it comes to drug testing an employee?

No employer wants to find out that they hired someone who's prone to illegal drug usage, so many pre-employment background checks are often coupled with a drug test. Sometimes, drug testing occurs randomly even after the candidate has been hired and while they are officially an employee.

What's legal and what's not, though? Here's a general overview about drug testing in the workplace in Texas: