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July 2010 Archives

Passage of CARE Would Set New Rules For Young Farm Workers

Under the current U.S. law, children ages 12-17 are exempt from the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) if they are working on a farm. This is to allow opportunities for teenagers to earn money and valuable experience while learning about the agricultural workforce. However that may change soon for young farm workers. 

Yet the Johnson City Record Courier reports that a bill in congress is seeking to eliminate the FLSA exemption, where supporters are arguing that the current law encourages migrant farm workers to put their kids in the fields to make more money for the family, which can be threatening to a child's health and education. The bill called The Children's Act for Responsible Employment, otherwise known as CARE or H.R 3564, would set a maximum hour standard for children working for hire in agriculture that already apply to every other industry. The passage of CARE would also set a minimum age requirement for working in agriculture, which also applies to all other industries.

Edwin A. Graning, a Texas bus driver that used to work for Capital Area Rural Transportation System (CARTS) near Austin, was fired from the company last January after refusing to transport a client to a Planned Parenthood office. Now, CNN reports that the employee has filed a lawsuit against CARTS, claiming that his termination was a form of religious discrimination.

Highland Village Accused of Violating FMLA

A former captain with the Highland Village Fire Department has hired a Texas employment lawyer to represent him in a lawsuit against the city of Highland Village. The Southeast Texas Record reports that the lawsuit alleges that the city violated the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) when Timothy L. Moehlman was demoted from his supervisor position for allowing a subordinate to swap shifts due to a medical problem.

Employee Files Suit Against Centerpoint Over Unpaid Overtime

Christopher Boone, a technology specialist, with Centerpoint Energy claims that the company owes money in unpaid overtime wages. Through a lawsuit that was filed in Jefferson County District on July 20, the Southeast Texas Record reports that the employee is hoping to recover these wages along with liquidated damages and attorney's fees. The plaintiff has a Houston employment lawyer to represent him in the case.
An employee at Landtel Communications and Rignet claims that he was wrongfully terminated from his position as a field technician  after he filed for workers compensation benefits, according to the Southeast Texas Record. The employee also claims the company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act for failing to pay overtime rates for hours worked in excess of forty hours in a given week.

Department of Labor Amends FMLA

Last month the Department of Labor announced an amended Family Medical Leave Act in which same-sex couples have more rights under the law. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Department of Labor expanded their definition of "son or daughter" to a broader definition, which has extended the rights to non-traditional families.

New Job Creation For June Takes a Dive Nationwide

Unemployment rates spiked up a bit last month, when the country saw a decrease in new job creation, according to the New York Times. News reports say that the nation lost 125,000 jobs in the month of June, but that this trend in job loss is mostly due to the large number of temporary federal Census workers that left their jobs.

The United States added just 83,000 jobs across in the country in June. This number may seem like steady growth to some people, but economists say that the country needs to add about 130,000 jobs each month so that the economy can keep pace with all the new workers entering the market. The median duration of unemployment rose to about 25.5 weeks in the month of June, which is up from 23.2 weeks in May.

24 Hour Fitness Faces Class Action Lawsuit

The largest privately owned fitness chain in America is being sued for allegedly passing over promotions on female and minority employees and favoring white workers. Not only is this lawsuit giving the chain 24 Hour Fitness USA Inc. bad publicity, but the lawsuit could end up costing the company millions of dollars.

Because of the lawsuit's class action status, there are many 24 Hour Fitness employees seeking back pay and damages in the case. A press release stated that the case has been filed in Alameda County Superior Court, located in Northern California. The lead plaintiff is Raoul Fulcher Jr., who claims that he was not promoted at 24 Hour Fitness because of his African American race.

George Lucas' company is now being criticized by employment lawyers across the country after a California jury awarded a former employee of the company $114,000 in damages in a wrongful termination suit.

The San Francisco based film company brought the Star Wars series and Indiana Jones films into the world, but many people may now be questioning how employees are treated at the film company. The Bay Citizen reports that former employee Julie Veronese sued the company, alleging that she was terminated from her position because she was pregnant.

Employee of University of North Texas Files Retaliation Claim

University of North Texas employee Allison Timmons Vrana claims that she was a victim of retaliation in the workplace after she filed for an appeal to her own performance review as a college employee. She claimed that her performance review was unfair and discriminatory, but that when she informed her employer of the discrimination, she was simply asked to just stop making complaints.

The Southeast Texas Record reports that the woman has filed a lawsuit against the University in hopes of seeking damages for back pay, front pay, lost benefits, compensatory damages, including recovery for mental distress, punitive damages, costs of court and attorney's fees. The lawsuit was filed in the Sherman Division of the Eastern District of Texas on June 18, where a jury trial has been requested for this case.

Fire-Rescue Employee Helen Watts Reaches Settlement With City

Dallas firefighter Helen Watts and her Texas employment lawyer have finally reached a settlement agreement with the city of Dallas after filing a lawsuit against the city almost two years ago.

According to the Dallas Morning News, the female firefighter alleged that she was a victim of sexual harassment when working for the city's Fire-Rescue department and that she was repeatedly propositioned by a colleague. She also claims that she filed complaints with the department about the alleged harassment but that her complaints were ignored. The employee claims that she resigned from her position because of the harassment.

As a long-time employee at Christus Hospital St. Mary in Port Arthur, Jada Fobbs was supposed to be honored at an employee awards ceremony for 30 years of service. Yet the Southeast Texas Record reports that a racist joke complaint at the ceremony may have led to retaliation, which caused the woman to quit her job.

At the awards ceremony, an administrator reportedly mixed up names and years while handing out the awards. The administrator apologized and said that he was "acting like a black man without an education."