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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.

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.

Passage of CARE Would Set New Rules For Young Farm Workers

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Under the current U.S. law, children ages 12-17 are exempt from the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) if they are working on a farm. This is to allow opportunities for teenagers to earn money and valuable experience while learning about the agricultural workforce. However that may change soon for young farm workers. 

Yet the Johnson City Record Courier reports that a bill in congress is seeking to eliminate the FLSA exemption, where supporters are arguing that the current law encourages migrant farm workers to put their kids in the fields to make more money for the family, which can be threatening to a child's health and education. The bill called The Children's Act for Responsible Employment, otherwise known as CARE or H.R 3564, would set a maximum hour standard for children working for hire in agriculture that already apply to every other industry. The passage of CARE would also set a minimum age requirement for working in agriculture, which also applies to all other industries.

Fat Chance at a Successful Hooters Lawsuit?

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A waitress at a Hooters restaurant in Roseville, Michigan claims that she was put on "weight restriction" and is at risk for losing her job based on her appearance. Cassie Smith, who weighs 132 pounds and is 5 feet 8 inches tall, told New York Daily News that she is horrified and humiliated by the incident.

"These women proceeded to explain to me that I had 30 days and they would give me a free gym membership, and if I didn't improve within those 30 days I would be separated from the company," Cassie Smith said.

Representatives from Hooters have reportedly denied the waitress' claims, saying that there has been no employee in Michigan who has been counseled about weight gain. Yet, New York Daily News reports that Cassie Smith has already spoken with an employment lawyer and is considering legal action.

Importance of Employee Workplace Privacy and Technology

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Boundaries between work and personal life are often blurred. However, you should be aware of how important employee workplace privacy can be, especially when it comes to office technology. A study conducted by the Ponemon Institute showed that most people use their work e-mail for more than just business. However, when an employer decides to check your work e-mail, it shouldn't necessarily come as a surprise. reports that employers can have a policy or agreement where the employee waives any privacy right or expectation he or she may have in exchange for working for the employer. This type of policy can apply to work-related e-mail accounts or text messages sent from a company phone. But if a company has no explicit policy that e-mails or text messages will be monitored, then the employer does not usually have the right to monitor such forms of communication.

Chemical Exposure Leads to Lawsuit Against BNSF Railway

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Sean Gaffney, an employee with BNSF Railway Co., recently filed a lawsuit against the company because of he allegedly suffered great physical and mental pain after inhaling chemicals on the job.

The Southeast Texas Record reports that the employee who had been working with BNSF since March 2008, claims that he was exposed to chemicals that caused him serious injury. The lawsuit against his employer was filed in Jefferson County District Court on March 25.

The Rules of Drug Testing in the Workplace

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It Texas, it's not exactly uncommon for an employer to require pre-employment drug testing or have a drug testing policy. The Texas Workforce Commission states that there is almost no limitations on private employers when it comes to drug testing, under both Texas and federal laws. This, however, is different from government employers. There have been court decisions that show certain drug testing practices can violate employee rights and be considered unreasonable search and seizures.

What Posters Must Be Displayed in the Workplace

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When you're working for a company, you might notice that there are posters on the wall that display particular legal rights of an employee. The Texas Workforce Commission states that there are actually various laws that require employers to display these types of posters in the workplace. The posters are available free of charge from various government agencies.

Posters that explain the Texas Unemployment Compensation Act and the Texas Payday Law are available through the Texas Workforce Commission. The U.S. Department of Labor - Wage and Hour Division (DOL) requires posters that explain The Fair Labor Standards Act, Employee Polygraph Protection Act, Family Medical Leave Act, and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act.

Smelly Lawsuit Raises Questions For Employment Lawyers

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A woman who worked for the city of Detroit filed a lawsuit against the city because a co-worker wore perfume and used room deodorizer that made it difficult for the woman to breathe while she was on the job. This could be a new issue for a Texas employment lawyer to tackle in the Lone Star state. As CBS News puts it, the "chemically sensitive" products caused such an extreme reaction, that city employee Susan McBride complained that she suffered migraines, nausea, and coughing.

The smells were essentially affecting Ms. McBride's ability to do her work, and her boss didn't take appropriate action when the employee made complaints about them. Employment lawyer Joelle Sharman told CBS that every person has the right to breathe in the workplace.

The Consequences of Lying During the Hiring Process

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Desperate times call for desperate measures, and unfortunately this means that some people will do anything they can to get a decent job these days. FindLaw states that many job applicants will try to increase their chances of getting a job by embellishing their resumes or lying about their experience and credentials. However, it's important to know that this is a very risky move and can ultimately lead to negative consequences.

The most obvious reason not to lie in the job application process is because you could be fired. If you lied about something relevant to to the job, such as receiving a college degree or having particular skills, then an employer has the right to fire you for it. A termination like this can become the black sheep when you're job hunting, as it can leave a negative mark on your record.