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June 2012 Archives

Yes Small Business Owners, the EEOC Can (and Will) Sue You

Small business owners are usually treated differently when it comes to running their businesses. For example, if you have less than three employees, you are not governed by some employment discrimination laws.

However, this doesn't mean that you're above the law. It also doesn't mean that the EEOC won't come after your business and you individually for violations of the labor laws.

That's what happened to Frank A. Mora, the owner and operator of the dry cleaning service "Oasis One Dry Cleaners" in McAllen.

$1.4M Utility Bill: Don't Let Mistakes Cost You Business

Everybody makes a mistake now and then, but billing a customer more than ten thousand times the normal rate seems a bit much. This type of mistake can cost a company if not remedied, because the mistake can seem intentional. This is especially true if you are a small business owner charging for a service or product.

This is exactly what happened to Kristin Harriger of Abilene, when she opened her latest electric bill to find that it was for $1.4 million, reports The Associated Press. The bill stated that she was charged 100,000 cents per kilowatt hour, when the rate usually ranges between 8.2 to 12.1 cents. Harriger quickly informed her energy provider, Potentia Energy, which let her know immediately that the charge was in error.

What should a business owner do to lower their risk of mistakes and unnecessary litigation?

Stevens Transport Settles EEOC Discrimination Suit for $50,000

Dallas refrigerated transport company, Stevens Transport settled a disability discrimination suit brought by the EEOC by paying $50,000 and making accommodations, reports The EEOC brought the lawsuit for the benefit of Andrew Scott, a paraplegic since 2003, who was denied two management positions at Stevens because of his disability.

Scott was a well-qualified candidate for management with a bachelor's degree in economics and management, and a master's degree in business administration, reports EmployerBrief. Scott was interviewed over the telephone and then invited to the company's offices for a follow up. Instead of going to trial, Stevens transport chose to settle. Read on to find out how to avoid an EEOC suit.

Judge Finds No Age Discrimination in Gray Hair Lawsuit

Sandra Rawline accused her former employer of six years, Capital Title, of firing her from her position as branch manager because of her shoulder length gray hair, according to the Houston Chronicle. She claimed that her refusal to dye her hair was the main reason she was fired.

Capital Title denied the claims, and has actually filed a defamation suit against Rawline for the media coverage she brought to the company, according to the Chronicle. The judge agreed with the company, dismissing Rawline's suit and letting the defamation suit go forward.

This raises the issue of what Rawline would have had to prove to succeed in an age discrimination suit.

Fired for Posting to Facebook -- Again

Social media is at it again; another person has been fired for posting to Facebook. This time it is a woman, Lauri Dillman, who was employed as an administrative assistant with Whitehouse, Texas' police department, according to KYTX-TV. The post in question is a link to a Tyler Paper article about 3 constables being fired after an investigation, with Dillman's comment of "LoL."

Dillman claims that she was fired immediately after posting, according to the complaint reported by Courthouse News Service. Her lawsuit is based based on the allegation that her employer violated her First Amendment right to free speech. While this is a proper suit to bring, it would also be proper to bring a wrongful discharge suit under Texas law.

Bad Business Partners: What 'Dallas' Taught Us Besides Who Shot J.R.

It should have been clear that it was Kristin that shot J.R. at the end of season four of “Dallas.” Not only had Kristin tried to put business pressure on J.R., but J.R. had also framed her for prostitution. There’s enough motivation there than we’ve ever seen, even if she wasn’t a bad business partner. But hey, that’s “Dallas,” right?

Now they’ve gone and made a remake of that classic Texas drama for the TNT network. Critics seem to take the view that if you liked it the first time, you’ll probably like the new one, since the key characters are back and played by the same actors, according to Texas Monthly.

“Dallas” should also remind us of the difficulties of starting a company with partners, as J.R.’s dad Jock showed us when he cheated his partner out of his oil business.

'America's Got Talent' Stuttering Singer: Don't Lie on Your Resume

It's likely you've already heard about the stuttering war hero singer from the “America's Got Talent” show, Timothy Michael Poe. According to KHOU, the San Antonio resident and singer claimed that in 2009, he saved his buddies from a grenade attack that broke his back and gave him a serious brain injury. KHOU also reports that there are many sources coming forward to discredit most, if not all, claims that Poe has made about his life, with the largest revelation being that he left Afghanistan after a month due to injuries sustained while in training.

Another reported falsehood claimed by Poe is that he claims to have instead been injured while deployed in Iraq, according to the Houston Chronicle. The Chronicle reports that a Minnesota National Guard (where Poe served) spokesman denies that Poe was ever deployed to Iraq, instead missing deployment for an unnamed medical condition.

UTMB Extramarital Affair Firing Not Gender Discrimination

In June, a Texas appeals court dismissed a gender discrimination suit filed against the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) brought by former nurse Nicole Petteway, according to KHOU. The case was brought after Petteway was fired after the ending of an extramarital affair between her and fellow nurse Leon McGrew began to affect the workplace, with McGrew filing a sexual harassment claim, according to Galveston's The Daily News.

According to the Daily News, there were multiple confrontations between workers and the two lovers that ended the relationship. The News continues, once the relationship was over the two agreed to speak only about business, but that did not last. The story ends with McGrew filing multiple complaints against Petteway, resulting in Petteway's termination for violations of the sexual harassment policy, according to the News.

Starting a Business in Houston? Start With the FindLaw Guide

You've heard about the cursing doll, right? The one that the Houston Chronicle reports is cursing instead of cooing? Well, you must have, because you have the great idea for the next big thing, and there is no way that it will malfunction in such a terrible way.

Starting a business is the best way to make sure that your hard work is rewarded and to keep that hard earned cash. However, it is just that, it's hard work to make your small business thrive.

Want to find tips and resources for starting your new business? Keep reading.

Man Falls in Dough Mixer, Might Get Dough from Workers' Comp

The Houston Chronicle reported that over the first weekend in June, a man employed by the B.C. Williams Bakery fell into a giant dough mixer. The man was rescued by firefighters and the Urban Search & Rescue team, who had to cut through the dough and machinery to reach the man, according to NBCDFW.

What the man was trying to do when he fell into the mixer is anyone's guess. But with any injury on the job, it raises the question of whether the man qualifies for workers' compensation and whether proper safety measures were being followed in the bakery.

Exxon Expansion to Increase Full-Time Employees, Contractors

Exxon Mobil has announced that it is considering a multi-billion-dollar expansion in Baytown, according to the Houston Chronicle. Exxon estimates that the expansion would create 10,000 construction jobs, and 350 permanent jobs upon completion of the project.

According to the Dow Jones Newswires, Exxon’s plans are based on the booming natural gas production in the U.S. and potentially in response to Dow Chemical’s announcement of a similar project outside of Houston. According to the Chronicle, Dow’s plant would create 600 permanent jobs and 4,800 construction jobs.