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November 2010 Archives

Does Texas Require Overtime Pay When Working on Holidays?

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People expecting to get paid a lot of money when working on a federal holiday might be disappointed to find out that employees in the private sector don't have to be paid beyond their normal rate of pay on holidays. Under Texas state laws and the Fair Labor Standards Act, holidays are treated like any other work day and no time off or extra pay is required.

Despite these laws, the Houston Chronicle reports that many companies choose to give their employees bonus pay or paid time off on holidays to improve morale and attract employees. Most public sector employees in Texas receive 10 paid holidays each year as ordered by federal law. These holidays include New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Day, President's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Senate Blocks Paycheck Fairness Act

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A law that would have made it easier for women to file class-action lawsuits against employers for sex-based pay discrimination was turned down in the Senate last week after senators failed to round up the necessary 60 votes to put the bill to a vote. CBS News reports that the Paycheck Fairness Act had strong support from civil rights groups, labor leaders, and the Obama administration, but that Republicans opposed the measure because of fear that such a law would expose employers to more litigation.

Employee at Chinese Buffet Sues Over Unpaid Wages

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Jose Armando Miranda Gonzalez, a restaurant employee in the Houston-area, has filed a lawsuit against Hu Jiang Inc. after getting paid wages that were less than the minimum wage. He claims that he got paid $1,500 a month, but that he generally worked 12 hours a day and six days per week, as did other salad prep cooks working for the company.

The Southeast Texas Record reports that the lawsuit against Hu Jiang Inc. claims violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The company does business as King Buffet, Jin Zhu Wang, and Li Qiu Jiang and has restaurant locations in La Porte, Pasadena, and Houston. The lawsuit is a collective action among several current and former salad prep cooks that worked for the company.

Under Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA), it’s illegal to discriminate against employees or job applicants on the basis of their genetic information. FindLaw states that the law went into effect last year so that patients would not decline to take advantage of the increasing availability of genetic testing for fear that they could lose their jobs or health insurance if the tests revealed adverse information. In 2008, the bill passed in the Senate unanimously and passed in the house by a vote of 414 to 1.

Former Employee Sues Transit Authority in Harris County

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Peter Thachamattam, an Indian from Alief, believed that he was denied a promotion with the Metropolitan Transit Authority because of his race. After complaining of racial discrimination in the workplace, Ultimate Aldine News reported thatthe employee was terminated from the company.

Claiming violations of the Texas Labor Code, Peter Thachamattam is now suing the Metropolitan Transit Authority in Harris County District Court. Thachamattam claims that he was retaliated against for complaining of racial discrimination and now has a Houston employment lawyer representing him in the lawsuit. He is seeking punitive and exemplary damages, as well as court costs in this employment law case.

Dollar Tree Employees in Florida Claim FLSA Violations

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Current and former employees of the Dollar Tree discount stores in Florida are now filing a lawsuit against the company, seeking unpaid wages and overtime compensation.The Sun Sentinel reports that the employees filed the suit on September 1 in the United States District Court in Southern Florida.

The two assistant managers filing the lawsuit claim that the discount chain failed to pay them the minimum wage and overtime compensation — both violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The employees also claim that they were routinely asked to work off the clock and that they were often forced to work through their lunch break without pay. A full version of the complaint can be found at

Cushion Packaging Company Settles Discrimination Lawsuit

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Austin Foam Plastics Inc. has agreed to pay $600,000 to settle an employment discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuit. Reliable Plant reports that the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed the suit after the company allegedly subjected African-American employees to a racially hostile work environment and allegedly subjected two male employees to a sexually hostile work environment.

Number of FMLA Claims Increases in 2010

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The Family Medical Leave Act entitles many employees to as much as 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period so that personal or family medical problems can be taken care of. FindLaw states that employers must provide this leave if 50 or more workers have been employed with the company or agency for at least the past 20 weeks. Any covered employee who has their rights violated under FMLA or is retaliated against for taking family medical leave can contact a Houston employment lawyer to file a claim.

An employee of a group home for individuals with mental disabilities claims that he was required to live in the facility for a total of 19 hours each day Monday through Friday and 15.5 hours a day on Saturdays and Sundays. However, the employee J.D. Brownlee alleges that he never received overtime compensation for the hours worked in excess of 40 hours during any one work week.

The Southeast Texas Record reports that J.D. Brownlee is claiming violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in a lawsuit against Pace Opportunity Centers Inc. The suit was reportedly filed on October 19 in the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division.

Taking Time Off From Work To Vote In Texas

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Election Day is here!

If you're required to work today or on any other election day, it would be a good idea to learn about what Texas laws exist when it comes to time off from work and voting. While there is no federal law in place that requires an employer to give employees time off to vote, most U.S. states and territories have enacted laws against disciplining or firing somebody for taking time off to perform the civic duty of voting during a general election.

Texas Back to Work Program Wins Award

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It's no wonder Texas has an unemployment rate of only 8.4 percent, far below the national unemployment rate. The state has developed some good initiatives to get people on Unemployment Insurance back to work.

The Texas Workforce Commission reports that the Texas Back to Work program recently won a national award at the 2010 National Conference on Unemployment Insurance in Washington D.C. for innovating a new strategy when it comes to reemployment. The program, which is funded by the Texas Legislature, provides up to $2,000 in wage subsidies to Texas employers for hiring qualified individuals who are currently receiving or have received Unemployment Insurance benefits within the last year.