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May 2010 Archives

Texas City Workers File Lawsuit After Alleged Retaliation

Several former employees of a Texas City refinery filed a wrongful termination lawsuit in Galveston County District Court against Mobley Industrial Services Inc. and BP Company, alleging that they were fired from their positions because of retaliation.

Miguel Castillo, David Shivram, Daniel Sotelo and William Clayton Jr. are the plaintiffs in this case that were employed with Mobley Industrial Services while working at the BP Texas City refinery on March 31. The Southeast Texas Record reports that the employees were trying to blast a pipe at the refinery, but that the pipe let out hazardous materials in their vicinity.

Two former nurses have filed a claim for wrongful termination against Winkler County Memorial Hospital in Texas, but the former employees and their Texas employment lawyer have so far failed to reach a settlement after two rounds of mediation.

The Odessa American reports that U.S. District Judge Rob Junell won't order that the parties go through a third round of mediation, unless both sides see another mediation session as worthwhile. A pre-trial hearing has been set with this case for November 16.

Nurses Anne Mitchell and Vickilyn Galle are suing Winkler County Memorial Hospital and several county officials after they reported Dr. Rolando G. Arafiles Jr. to the Texas Medical Board. The nurses claim that they reported Dr. Rolando Arafiles to officials because they were concerned about his medical practices, but the county attorneys claim that the complaints were filed "in bad faith" and were done because of a personal feud they had with the doctor.

Employee Suing RK Resources Over Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment compensation can be very valuable for workers who were recently put out of a job. So if a person is denied unemployment benefits, when he or she believes that they're entitled to such benefits, then it may be a good idea to call a Houston employment lawyer and learn about the possibilities of filing a legal claim in order to collect unemployment compensation.

The Southeast Texas Record reports that a woman from Galveston County is now suing her former employer RK Resources and the Texas Workforce Commission over unemployment benefits. The plaintiff, Angie Smith, says that she qualifies to receive the unemployment benefits because she involuntary separated from her company when she was informed that her salary was going to be reduced.

Fat Chance at a Successful Hooters Lawsuit?

A waitress at a Hooters restaurant in Roseville, Michigan claims that she was put on "weight restriction" and is at risk for losing her job based on her appearance. Cassie Smith, who weighs 132 pounds and is 5 feet 8 inches tall, told New York Daily News that she is horrified and humiliated by the incident.

"These women proceeded to explain to me that I had 30 days and they would give me a free gym membership, and if I didn't improve within those 30 days I would be separated from the company," Cassie Smith said.

Representatives from Hooters have reportedly denied the waitress' claims, saying that there has been no employee in Michigan who has been counseled about weight gain. Yet, New York Daily News reports that Cassie Smith has already spoken with an employment lawyer and is considering legal action.

A call center based out of Salt Lake City, Utah allegedly violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by failing to pay for breaks that were less than 30 minutes in length and also for failing to pay for the time employees had to spend waiting for work areas to become accessible even though their shifts already had started. In essence, the company is alleged to have failed to adhere to FLSA standards.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports that the company Teleperformance USA recently agreed to pay nearly $2 million to settle the FLSA complaints. The settlement covers almost 16,000 employees in 10 different states. The settlement may have an effect on some Texas workers, as a portion of the payouts will be paid to Teleperformance USA employees in the Lone Star state.

Worker Files Suit After Alleged Retaliation Firing

One employee of B&E Resources has had to go through a great deal of legal trouble to receive workers' compensation. The Southeast Texas Record reports that the plaintiff, Webster Perkins, sustained work-related injuries while working for Professional Business Solutions, B&E Resources and Breckenridge Enterprises on July 24, 2008.

After the injury, Webster Perkins filed a workers' compensation claim with the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission, but the Texas Department of Insurance-Workers' Compensation Division filed an appeal. The appeals panel reportedly found that the man was not considered an employee of Breckenridge Enterprises at the time of the accident.

Woman Claims She Faced Retaliation After Filing Compaint

Christine Hansen of Texas claims that her employer subjected her to a "sexually hostile working environment by threatening to fire her if she did not perform sexual favors for him." Obviously, it was in her best interest to get an employment lawyer and file a lawsuit in the Lufkin Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

The Southeast Texas Record reports that the woman had been working for Mazz Moonies, which does business as Z Food Mart. Her lawsuit, which was filed on May 5, accuses her former employer of creating a sexually hostile work environment, retaliation and wrongful termination.

Importance of Employee Workplace Privacy and Technology

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Boundaries between work and personal life are often blurred. However, you should be aware of how important employee workplace privacy can be, especially when it comes to office technology. A study conducted by the Ponemon Institute showed that most people use their work e-mail for more than just business. However, when an employer decides to check your work e-mail, it shouldn't necessarily come as a surprise.

Philly.com reports that employers can have a policy or agreement where the employee waives any privacy right or expectation he or she may have in exchange for working for the employer. This type of policy can apply to work-related e-mail accounts or text messages sent from a company phone. But if a company has no explicit policy that e-mails or text messages will be monitored, then the employer does not usually have the right to monitor such forms of communication.

National Unemployment Rate Rises

The national unemployment rate continues to rise as it reached 9.9 percent in the month of April, according to the Dallas Business Journal. Yet, the U.S. economy reportedly added 290,000 jobs in the month of April.

Job gains occurred in the manufacturing, professional and business services segments, as well as in healthcare, leisure and hospitality. The 2010 U.S Census also provided a large number of jobs in the month of April. The possible discrepancy between job growth and the high unemployment rate could be due to the fast rate in which Americans leave the labor force and then re-enter soon after.

Man Claims He Was Fired For Requesting Workers' Comp

A man from Orange County believes that he was wrongfully terminated from his position at KDR Supply after he filed for workers' compensation benefits. The Southeast Texas Record reports that the former employee is now firing back at the oil company with a complaint that has been filed in Jefferson County District Court by a Texas employment lawyer.

The former KDR Supply employee, Darin Linscomb, claims that he requested workers' compensation benefits after he sustained injuries while working for the company. He says that he was then terminated because of the workers' compensation claim.

Wal-Mart Settlement Means Money For Employment Lawyers

A Superior Court Judge in Woburn, Massachusetts approved a $40 million settlement in an employment class-action lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores last month. Bloomberg Businessweek reports that approximately 87,000 employees at Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores will be paid anywhere from $400 to $2,500, since courts ruled that workers of the corporate chain were forced to "work off the clock" and had their breaks cut short.

The settlement is considered a huge victory for Wal-Mart workers and labor rights activists. Yet certain activists and even some Houston employment lawyers might question how the money is being distributed. The settlement initially included as much as a $15.2 million (38 percent of the total settlement) to the lawyers that worked on the case. After nine years of litigation between multiple law firms, some may have viewed this amount as fair.

Employee Terminated After E-mail About Creationism Seminar

Christina Castillo Comer has not given up on her employment law case about wrongful termination in Texas. The former director of the science program for Texas public schools claims that she was fired after a dispute over creationism, according to the Associated Press.

With a Texas employment lawyer, Christina Comer filed a lawsuit after her wrongful termination in 2007, but a federal judge in Austin dismissed the case in 2009. The woman is now appealing that decision with a three-judge panel from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

The plaintiff states that she was told to quit her job or she would be fired from her position after she forwarded an e-mail about a presentation by a Southeastern Louisiana University philosophy professor opposed to teaching creationism in schools. She simply just forwarded the event information and left the comment "FYI."