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August 2010 Archives

ADA Lawsuit Against AT&T; Settled

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The telecommunications company AT&T has agreed to pay $60,000 to a former employee in order to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit. Occupational Health and Safety News reports that the ADA lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleged that a man that used to work for AT&T was denied a similar job within the company because of his "insulin use" for type 2 diabetes.

The job applicant was reportedly applying to be a cable splicer technician for AT&T in Austin and had the necessary experience and expertise to perform the job. He had also safely performed a similar job for AT&T after he was diagnosed with diabetes. When this applicant was denied the job, EEOC stepped in and accused the company of violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Understanding the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988

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There are many public and private employers in the state of Texas that drug test prospective employees before they officially hire their employees. This is partially due to the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988, which states that any employer receiving federal grants or any form of federal money must have a drug-free workplace or else risk losing federal funding.

FindLaw states that the Drug-Free Workplace Act does not contain any provisions that specifically allow for workplace drug testing, but that the law instead requires federal government contractors and grantees to establish a drug-free awareness program for their employees. If a great number of employees have been convicted of criminal drug statues, then it can be concluded that the grantee has failed to make a good faith effort to provide a drug-free workplace, hence federal funding can be lost.

When is an Employee Exempt From Overtime Pay?

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Under the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act, most employees in Texas are entitled to overtime pay (one-and-one-half times an employee's normal rate of pay) when the worker works in excess of 40 hours in a given work week, regardless of how many hours the employee works in a work day. Yet FindLaw states that there are some white collared workers that are exempt from overtime pay when they work over 40 hours in a week.

Employee Reaches Settlement With Austin School Board

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An Austin school district's former director of diversity and intercultural relations reached a settlement with the school board earlier this month, where the district will be paying $149,500 to the former employee after a wrongful termination dispute.

The Austin Statesman reports that the settlement money Margarita Decierdo will be receiving is equivalent to about a year's worth of pay and her attorney fees. The woman was a contract employee with the school district and was in the second year of her three-year contract with the district when she was terminated.

Woman Sues Employer Over Work Related Injury

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An employee of Tractor Supply Co. in Marshall, Texas is suing her employer for "failing to provide a safe place to work,"  according to the Southeast Texas Record. Linda Myers filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division after a metal and glass sign allegedly fell from the ceiling and landed onto her head. She claims that the injury caused significant medical care including cervical fusion of vertebral bodies.

Nurse Files Class Action Lawsuit Over Unpaid Overtime Wages

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Lisa Tice, a vocational nurse working for AOC Senior Home Health Corp., claims that she was given an option at the beginning of her employment to be paid overtime or be paid "straight time." The Southeast Texas Record reports that choosing the straight time option would mean that the nurse would not be paid time-and-a-half for hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week. However, nurses who chose the overtime option would not usually be given hours in excess of 40 hours per week.

Employee of All Saints Camp Alleges Age Discrimination

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A Texan woman in her mid-50s, who used to work at a non-profit camp called All Saints Camp, is now filing a lawsuit against the youth camp because of alleged age discrimination. The Southeast Texas Record reports that the woman already has an employment lawyer that has filed the suit against All Saints Camp & Conference Center in the Sherman Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

Former Employees of Winkler County Hospital Settle Suit

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After multiple rounds of mediation, the two former nurses that filed a claim against Winkler County Memorial Hospital in Texas reached a settlement. The New York Times reports that the two nurses that were fired and criminally prosecuted for reporting allegations of improper medical treatment by Dr. Ronaldo Arafiles at the county hospital, will be splitting a $750,000 payment.

The nurses Anne Mitchell and Vickilyn Galle were acquitted of felony charges of misusing public information earlier this year. Their lawsuit, which named Dr. Arafiles and hospital administrator Stan Wiley as defendants in the suit, in addition to naming the county hospital as a defendant, stated that the two nurses had been subjected to vindictive prosecution and that they had been denied of their First Amendment rights.

Employee Sues Goodwill, Alleging Race Discrimination

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An employee of Goodwill Industries has filed a lawsuit against the organization, claiming that the Caucasian janitorial workers are getting paid more than the janitorial workers of racial minorities. According to the Southeast Texas Record, the suit was filed on July 28 in the Jefferson County District court by Earnest Sennet, who was making just $6 an hour as a janitor at Goodwill.

In the lawsuit, Earnest Sennet alleges that he was supposed to be paid $11 an hour, as it reportedly says in his contract. However, the defendant in this case told the plaintiff that he would only be getting paid $6 per hour. The plaintiff is a minority male, but the lawsuit does not specify what his exact ethnicity is or when he started his employment at Goodwill.

AT&T; Hit With Discrimination Of Age Lawsuit

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The largest phone company in the United States has been hit with yet another lawsuit, this time it's over discrimination of age against the company's employees that are over the age of 40.

Reuters reports that AT&T Inc. is in talks of settling the lawsuit that is almost a year old. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has proposed a settlement and both sides are set to meet for a mediation session on August 10 with further proceedings on September 6.

Jobless Rate in Texas Continues to Fall

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According to the Alvarado post, the Texas unemployment rate dropped to 8.2 percent in June 2010, which was down from 8.3 percent in May 2010. With these numbers, things are certainly looking optimistic for employment in the Lone Star state, especially since the U.S unemployment rate is sitting way above the state unemployment rate at 9.5 percent.

Former IT Director Suing Harris County

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Texas employment lawyers have named Harris County in a lawsuit that focuses on the county sheriff's office, where one employee claims that he was fired for simply being a whistleblower.

ABC News reports that the former IT director of the sheriff's office Wilfrido Willie Mata contacted the FBI when an outsider hacked into the county's computer system, even though he was asked to "look the other way" and not tell the county of the hacking. He later disclosed his cooperation with the FBI to the sheriff's office.