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July 2012 Archives

Dillard's, The Style of Your Life Unless You're Old?

The Dillard’s store has been around for over 75 years, providing “maximum fashion and value to its shoppers” according to its website. This is great for those of us who are on a budget and don’t want to be mocked by the Luvdoc.

But now Dillard’s is the backdrop for an employment suit from former store manager James Drake, who claims that he was terminated because of his age and in violation of the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), according to the Southeast Texas Record. Drake had taken approved medical leave to have his knee replaced after being store manager in Beaumont for 12 years.

Obese Man Fired from BAE Systems Gets $55,000

Ronald Kratz II was fired from BAE Systems for being morbidly obese in 2009. He filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) alleging a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), according to the Houston Chronicle.

BAE fired Kratz because it regarded his obesity as a disability and that he could not perform his job duties as a material handler, according to the EEOC. In the 2011 lawsuit filed on Kratz’s behalf, the EEOC claimed that Kratz was qualified to perform the essential functions of his job and that there were not even discussions about whether Kratz could be reasonably accommodated.

Monsanto Lawsuit Alleges Failure to Pay Wages and Unsafe Housing

Would you head up to Indiana to work in the cornfields for Monsanto if they promised you free housing with kitchens and a fair wage? It doesn't sound so bad does it? But what if when you got there, your kitchen was an old school bus and you had to pay for the substandard housing?

This is the raw deal that workers from Hidalgo County allegedly got when they were approached by a recruiter who was finding workers for Monsanto's hybrid corn seed operation in Indiana. The recruiter from Milo Inc. allegedly promised seven Texan field workers free housing with kitchens, plenty of work, $80 an acre for detassling, and bonuses, according to Courthouse News Service. Now the workers have filed a lawsuit against Monsanto.

What do you do if you find yourself in this kind of situation?

Discrimination in the TX Dept of Aging and Disability; What Irony

We hear stories about discrimination in the workplace all the time. There are many stories of racial discrimination, age discrimination, and sexual harassment. But what happens when the ones who are protecting the rights of the elderly and disabled discriminates against an employee because of their disability?

We will have a chance to see what happens when Cecelia Garrett's lawsuit alleging disability discrimination is concluded. Garrett claims that she was hired for a day shift as an MRA-1 at Pine Ridge Residential care facility by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services ("DADS"), reports The Southeast Texas Record. After being hired, Garrett (who is hearing impaired) found her training postponed for lack of an interpreter. Once her training was complete, Garrett was assigned to the night shift.

FMLA Requirements for Employers, You Might Need to Know This

When an employee gets pregnant, how much time do they get off of work?

If you didn't address this in your employee handbook or in the employee's contract, there is a law that governs exactly what you must allow for in terms of time away from work and the position that must be available when the employee comes back to work.

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") requires employers to allow certain employees time off to attend to medical, family or military issues. Texas' Family and Medical Leave Act follows the federal law, but then adds that if an employee works for the state of Texas that they must use all available sick leave and vacation before taking leave under the federal statute.

So what do you need to do specifically to comply with the FMLA requirements for employers?

Janitors' Union Strikes for Higher Wages:$9k per Year Not Enough

While everyone has been dealing with the flooding in Houston this past week, a 250-strong janitors' union strike of Houston's office building janitors began, which may lead to a flood of papers around your desk if an agreement isn't reached, according to the Houston Chronicle. The janitors are members of the Service Employees International Union ("SEIU") who represent them in contract negotiations.

Currently, the janitors involved are paid $8.35 an hour and make an average of $8,684 per year, according to The Nation. They are looking to get a raise to $10 per hour over the next 3 years, while the employers are offering a raise of $0.50 per hour over the next 5 years. Some of the janitors claim to have been retaliated against for joining the SEIU as well.

What's next for the janitors?

Buffalo Wild Wings Sexual Harassment; Employee Not 'Wild' Enough?

You know Buffalo Wild Wings -- or B-Dubs as it likes to be called -- it's known for its wings. You could also say it's like Hooters, but without the orange hot pants.

It seems like an employee at B-Dubs thought that he was working at Hooters when he started sexually harassing hospitality manager Michelle Kromer. Managment told her to "play along," according to the Southeast Texas Record. Kromer claims that when she made it clear that she was not going "play along" that she was quickly fired.

B-Dubs allegedly terminated her for the unauthorized use of a gift card. Let's see if Kromer has a case.

NFL Players Association Sues NFL Over Bounty Suspensions

Just when you thought all the news about the Saints' bounty program had ended, here it is again as the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) sues the NFL over the bounty suspensions of Will Smith, Anthony Hargrove, and Scott Fujita, reports The Associated Press.

The NFLPA claims that the arbitrator in the case had decided the fates of the three players before hearing any evidence of their alleged wrongdoing, in violation of the labor agreement, according to the AP. This illustrates one way that an arbitration clause in a contract can be challenged.

Small Businesses Have IP Theft Concerns, Just Ask NeedFire

If there is nothing else that should be stressed to those starting small businesses, it is this: make sure ownership of intellectual property and other business assets is clear. If and when employees leave the business they may think they own what they've created or own your clients, which usually leads to litigation.

Litigation, it's a deadly foe of small businesses.

This is what has happened between the former bandmates of NeedFire, a Dallas based Celtic Rock band, reports Courthouse News. NeedFire's founding member, Ed Walewski, claims that former member of the band, John Cleghorn, has now attempted to register the NeedFire name as his own trademark and registered NeedFire's recordings as his own copyrights.