The Houston Employment Law Blog - Find Houston Employment Lawyers

January 2011 Archives

Man Misclassified as Contract Worker, Denied Overtime Compensation

Sammy Gene Kinder has filed a lawsuit against Encana Oil & Gas in the Eastern District of Texas, claiming that the company knowingly and willfully violated the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. According to the Southeast Texas Record, the lawsuit alleges that the company violated FLSA when Kinder was denied overtime compensation when he worked longer than 40 hours in a week.

Kinder says that he was employed as a "contract" lease operator with Encana Oil & Gas, but that he was only classified as a contract worker so that overtime compensation and legal duties could be avoided. As part of the contract job, the plaintiff was required to wear a company uniform, to report in when he arrived and when he left the job site, to use company tools, to approve invoices and to attend training and safety sessions.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a landmark decision this week that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act can protect third parties from retaliation based on discrimination. Reuters reports that Eric Thompson was fired from his job at a Kentucky stainless steel manufacturing plant after his fiancee, who also worked at the same company, filed a sex-discrimination complaint against the company.

An eight-page opinion sided with Thompson and was written by Justice Antonin Scalia to overturn a U.S. appeals court ruling that only workers who file the discrimination claims are protected under the law. Justice Scalia said in his ruling that relatives or other close associates of an employee who complains of discrimination cannot be fired based on retaliation.

Did Pizza Hut Violate the Equal Pay Act?

A former female assistant manager of a Pizza Hut eatery in South Medford is now suing the chain’s largest franchise, alleging violations of the Equal Pay Act. The Southeast Texas Record reports that the suit was filed against NPC International Inc. on January 21, in the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division.

The plaintiff in this case, Anetra Skene, claims that she was paid less than other similarly situated male managers of Pizza Hut. The lawsuit also states that Skene was terminated from her position after her cash register was short $40 on August 2, but that a male assistant manager was apparently permitted to violate policies with regard to register shortages without facing disciplinary action.

Former Football Announcer Ron Franklin Sues ESPN After Firing

Ron Franklin, a former football analyst for ESPN, filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the network this week, but will not be seeking reinstatement of his position through the lawsuit. According to the Associated Press, Franklin claims in the suit that ESPN had no grounds for dismissing him after his 24 years of dedication to the network.

Franklin is now 68 years of age and resides in Austin, Texas. In his lawsuit, he alleges that he exchanged “contentious words” with his colleague who he claims interrupted a private conversation before they worked together at the Chick-fil-A Bowl. As we reported in an earlier blog post, ESPN said that Ron Franklin called female sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards “sweetcakes” and that he later called her an “a-hole” once she told him not to talk to her like that.

Employee Disability Discrimination Claims Jump to Record Levels

Disability-related job bias claims are on the rise, with the Associated Press reporting that federal employment discrimination complaints climbed to record levels in 2010. The U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reportedly received nearly 100,000 claims last year and saw a 17 percent increase in the number of disability discrimination cases between 2009 and 2010.

Why the sudden increase in job disability discrimination complaints? The EEOC said that the high jump in disability-related cases is likely due to the expansion of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). New provisions of the law took effect in 2009, which allowed more employees to qualify as legally disabled.

Nurse Claims Wrongful Termination at Tyler Cardiovascular Consultants

Debbie Blevins claims that she was fired from her nursing position with Tyler Cardiovascular Consultants despite the fact that she was never the subject of any disciplinary actions or warnings. According to Outpatient Surgery Magazine, Blevins has filed a lawsuit in federal court in the Eastern District of Texas and is seeking more than $16.25 million in back pay, lost benefits, forward pay, pain and suffering and punitive damages, plus attorney’s fees and court costs.

Officer Claims City of Galveston Violated Whistleblower Laws

A Galveston police officer claims that he was demoted by the police department after he reported Galveston Police Chief Charles Wiley's alleged illegal activities. The Southeast Texas Record reports that officer Michael Gray believes that his demotion was a form of retaliation after the Galveston police chief learned about the criminal complaint last October.

There's an App For That: DOL Timesheet iPhone App

The Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division has released an app for iPhones that allows people to track their time. The so called "DOL-Timesheet App by the U.S. Department of Labor" is available on iTunes.

The app is described as follows:

This is a timesheet to record the hours that you work and calculate the amount you may be owed by your employer. It also includes overtime pay calculations at a rate of one and one-half times (1.5) the regular rate of pay for all hours you work over 40 in a workweek.

What a great and easy way to integrate labor law into technology. But the app does have a caveat:

Ron Franklin Pulled From Broadcast After Offensive Comment

The ESPN college football analyst Ron Franklin was taken out of the Fiesta Bowl game broadcast due to comments that he made toward sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards during the Chick-fil-A Bowl pre-bowl on Friday. NESN Newswire reports that Ron Franklin called the female reporter "sweetcakes" and that he later called her an "a-hole" once she told him not to talk to her like that.

CEMEX Owes Thousands of Employees Back Wages

CEMEX Inc., the nation’s largest supplier of cement and ready-mix concrete, will be paying more than $1.5 million to 1,705 current and former workers for overtime violations. FOX News reports that the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that the company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by not paying overtime wages to pay-per-load employees when they worked more than 40 hours in a work week.

CEMEX, a Houston-based company, will be paying out overtime back wages to workers in eight states, including Texas. FLSA violations also took place in states such as Arizona, California, Georgia, New Mexico, North Carolina, and South Carolina.