The Houston Employment Law Blog - Find Houston Employment Lawyers

March 2012 Archives

Safety-Sensitive Workers Cocaine Positives Spike

Safety-sensitive workers have been put under the microscope as far as government testing is concerned and as a result, cocaine positives have shown a 33% increase, reports Employer Brief. Some safety-sensitive workers include truck drivers and transportation technicians.

The study was done to help out the Department of Transportation’s efforts to regulate drug and alcohol testing. There is concern about safety-sensitive workers being on drugs -- especially stimulants -- because they may take these drugs to stay awake or work longer than they should be.

Few More Minorities in Senior Level Positions in Government

Minorities may finally be making a little bit of headway in securing senior level positions in the United States, reports the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

In the Annual Report on the Federal Work Force Part II: Work Force Statistics, Fiscal Year (FY) 2010, it was found that over the last ten years, minorities have made a gain all across the board in the federal work force.

The breakdown of the work force is such that men make up 56% of the total and women 44%. Of that total, 65% were white; about 18% were black; about 8% were Latino; and about 6 % were Asian.

Obesity Discrimination at Citizens Medical Center?

A Texas hospital already reeling from a lawsuit by doctors of Indian and Middle Eastern descent is now skirting the edge of a different discrimination issue by banning overweight job applicants, reports The Texas Tribune.

The banning of overweight job applicants occurs through the Citizens Medical Center Policy, which requires applicants to have a body mass index (BMI) of less than 35. For someone who is about 5'10, that means about 245 pounds.

State Workers Can't Sue States For Unpaid Sick Leave: SCOTUS

The Supreme Court of the United States, adopting a states-friendly position, recently ruled that state workers can't sue states for unpaid sick leave under federal law, reports The Los Angeles Times. The ruling strikes down a portion of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

The FMLA, which applies to employers who have more than fifty employees on their payroll, prohibits employers from discriminating against employees who choose to take time off of work to care for certain medical needs of their own, or to care for their family members, including newborn and adopted children, reports FindLaw.

New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton Suspended

It would seem that the New Orleans Saints bounty program, which encouraged players to hit and attempt to injure opposing players by allowing for financial incentives, has led to Sean Payton’s suspension for a year, reports USA Today.

In addition to Coach Payton’s suspension, the team will lose its second round draft pick in 2012 and in 2013. There will also be a half a million dollar fine.

Employment Based Health Insurance In Decline In Great Recession

Most people around the state of Texas rely on their jobs to provide them health insurance. In fact, some people give health insurance as the primary justification for holding a job. So it would be troubling if it is learned that employment based health insurance is in decline, reports The New York Times.

The study, entitled Great Recession Accelerated Long-Term Decline of Employer Health Coverage, published by the National Institute of Health Care Reform, points out that between 2007 and 2010, employer-sponsored health insurance dropped from 63.06 percent to 53.5 percent. The ten percent drop, in such a short time, is stark.

EEOC Helps Fight Coerced Labor and Human Trafficking in the USA

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is tasked with many things related to enforcing the federal anti-discrimination laws. However, it also has a secondary responsibility, reports the U.S. State Department in a report on human trafficking in the USA, and that is helping other federal agencies in the fight against trafficking.

At first blush it may not be obvious what an agency related to employment, which generally covers employers that have at least 15 employees, has to do with human trafficking, but a little reflection helps to make the point more clear.

John Crane Production Solutions Sued For Overtime Wages

A field technician in Tyler, Robert Jastern, recently filed suit against John Crane Product Solutions for overtime wages, reports The Southeast Texas Record.

Robert Jastern’s role was “field service technician” and he was given a weekly rate; but he points out that even though he worked longer than forty hours per week he was not paid overtime rates. And he alleges that when he questioned this policy, John Crane Production began to retaliate against him, in the form of unpaid leave and termination.

Texas Supreme Court Sides With Employer on Jury Waiver

The Texas Supreme court recently sided with an employer in a Texas jury waiver case that is raising a lot of eyebrows, reports Dallas Ft. Worth CBS. The facts are as follows.

In 2008, Steve Valdez, 28-year-long employee of Frank Kent Cadillac in Forth Worth, was asked by his employer to sign a jury waiver clause which would have prevented Valdez from being able to demand a jury trial if he had a dispute with his employer. When Valdez showed reluctance to sign the jury waiver agreement, his employer threatened him with firing, and so Valdez went ahead and signed.

Workplace Bullying Is Real, Beware

More than one-third of U.S. workers have been bullied, according to a 2010 workplace bullying survey conducted by Zogby International, report the researchers at FindLaw.

The survey also found that 68 percent of bullying involves the same gender (i.e. women bullying women, or men bullying men). A similar survey conducted in 2007 found that bullying is four times more prevalent than illegal forms of workplace harassment.

In fact, the phenomenon of workplace bullying is so widespread now that it has reached the corporations in Manhattan, as reported by Salon.

How To Start A Food Truck Business In Houston

Texas is blessed to have a fairly good economy. But that doesn't mean that entrepreneurship should stop. One of the best ways to earn your entrepreneurial stripes is by starting a pop-up business in Houston. The most easily recognized pop-up business is the increasingly ubiquitous food truck.

This post will give you some great pointers on how to start a food-truck business in Houston.

One

Determine whether you are going to run a route (stopping no more than one hour in location) or set up in one place regularly. Which one you choose will lead to different responsibilities and regulations that you have to fulfill.

Federal Government Makes Texas Government Pay?

Maybe some people will understand this case as the federal government making Texas government pay, but in reality, it is much less sensational.

Basically, what happened is that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission got Brooks County, Texas, to pay $20,000 and offer other settlements to resolve an employment discrimination lawsuit, reports Job Mouse.

The case arose out of an allegation of illegal retaliation that apparently occurred after an employee filed an age discrimination complaint. In other words, someone was fired for complaining.

Desperate Housewives Firing Lawsuit for Nicollette Sheridan

Desperate Housewives star, Nicollette Sheridan, was killed off on the show, but that has given life to a big lawsuit, reports The Associated Press.

The details, like the show itself, are a bit scandalous. Turns out that Sheridan may have been slapped (or given a hard artistic tap, depending on who you ask) by executive producer Marc Cherry. Then, after Sheridan was killed off on the show, she filed a wrongful termination case.

Nicollette Sheridan was scheduled as the first witness, and later, Eva Longoria, Teri Hatcher, and Marcia Cross might testify as well.