When someone gets treated unlawfully at their job because of that person’s race, age, gender, sex, sexual orientation, disability, religion, national origin, or color that person suffers more than just loss of income.  A person’s job is often tied to their identity, their reputation, their sense of worth, and sense of purpose.  Losing a job, not getting a promotion, not getting hired, or being subjected to severe or pervasive harassment causes very real pain and suffering.  It can strain friendships, estrange family members, break up marriages, and ruin lives.  Because unlawful employment discrimination causes that kind of actual damage, most employment laws allow a person to recover money for those things.  In employment law, these damages are called compensatory damages and can be recovered in lawsuits against private employers, state and local government employers, and federal agencies.

Continue Reading Mental Anguish Damages in Texas and the Fifth Circuit

We all know that the First Amendment gives us the right to free speech. But, when it comes to the First Amendment, what you don’t know can hurt you.

TRUE: The First Amendment allows people to express their views.

FALSE:  The First Amendment protects employees from termination.

First Amendment protection and job protection are not intertwined. 

Many private sector employees fail to realize that their right to free speech does not prevent employers from limiting that speech.  Freedom of speech in the workplace protects public sector (i.e., government) employees.

Continue Reading Taking the First Amendment to Work: Can I really be fired for saying that? Private Sector Employees

While commissions and bonuses are subject to the various laws that regulate wages, such as the FLSA and the Texas Payday Law, they are unique in rather important manners. The most obvious way that they differ from hourly-based and salary-based wages is when they are considered “earned.” Put another way, if you are an hourly worker, your wages are considered earned as soon as you start working. If you have worked for an hour, you have earned an hour’s worth of wages. If you have worked half an hour, you have half of your hourly wage. It is simple. But this same inquiry varies dramatically with workers who earn their wages based on commissions. Continue Reading How Can I Get My Unpaid Commissions?

Unfortunately, layoffs happen and oftentimes come as a complete surprise to those affected. Layoffs also oftentimes come with a severance offer.

Sometimes an employer just offers up the severance free and clear without the employees who have been laid off having to do anything at all to receive it. However, this is not the norm. More often getting the severance is made contingent on the employee signing a severance agreement.

Severance agreements are legal documents and can be incredibly complicated and confusing and leave employees wondering what to do. On the one hand, an employee who has just lost their job clearly wants the money. But on the other hand, that employee may be concerned about what they are giving up in exchange for that money. They also may be wondering if they can get more money. The best way to know for sure is to consult with a Texas Employment Lawyer.

Continue Reading Layoffs and Severance Agreements

One of the questions I get all of the time during consultations is, “what does it mean to be an ‘at will’ employee?” If you have this question, then you are in luck because that is what this week’s blog is all about!

First, “at will” employment is the default employment relationship in the state of Texas.  That means if you do not have a contract or agreement defining some other type of employment relationship with your company, then you are an “at will” employee.  By far, most employees are “at will” employees.

Continue Reading Employment Law Basics: What does “at will” employment mean?

Every day our office receives calls and online inquiries from workers seeking legal advice.  They want to know whether their boss’s actions are illegal and whether they have claims to pursue. And, if the answer to both of those questions is yes, they have to think about whether they are ready to take action to protect their rights.  But still, before even contacting an attorney they may be afraid.  They don’t know when they need an attorney, how long to wait before contacting an attorney, or even if contacting an attorney is the right choice for them.  That’s why consultations are a very important part of the practice of law.

How do I know I need an employment attorney?

If you are even asking this question the safest answer is seek a consultation.

Continue Reading When should I call an employment lawyer?

Do you find yourself in a situation where you are being discriminated at work, but you have no idea what to even do beyond going to HR? This is probably one of the most common scenarios I encounter during consultations. What I’d like to do is go over some very basic things to keep in mind if you find yourself in a situation where you suspect that you are the victim of discrimination.

Documentation is king.

The very first thing to do is take stock of the documents you have that are related to your employment. For example, any type of disciplinary documents, employee handbook, company memos, pertinent emails, termination letter, any complaints that you have filed or sent to anyone at the company like your boss, HR, or a coworker, or anything that may be relevant.

Continue Reading What to do if You are the Victim of Discrimination at the Workplace

Imagine this scenario. You have been hired for a new job in Texas. You go in for your first day at your new job and your new employer gives you a bunch of paperwork to fill out. Most of it is run-of-the-mill stuff like tax forms and direct deposit information that you have no issue completing. I mean, you want to get paid after all. But there is one document in the bunch that you are unfamiliar with. It’s an arbitration agreement. You might be thinking . . . “What is this?” “Do I have to sign this?” “What am I giving up if I sign this?” This blog is designed to give you the basics.

Continue Reading What is Arbitration?

Jury trials and the lawyers and firms who do them are increasingly rare. But it is well worth seeking one out if you have an employment dispute even if you don’t want to go to trial. That is because Jury trial experience informs every decision made in a case and may drive up settlement value leading to better, more informed representation.

A short time ago, at the federal courthouse, I was talking to a named partner from a prominent employment defense firm in Austin, Texas. During a break in his jury trial that I happened to be watching, he told me that the last time he tried a case to a jury was almost four years ago when we were on opposite sides of a state court retaliation claim. At the time of the conversation, I had already done one jury trial that year and would do another in about two months. Moreover, I had done two jury trials the previous year. During the trial we did together almost four years ago, he had remarked to me that although he had represented that particular client for 10 years, this was only the second jury trial he had done for them.

Continue Reading Why Trial Experience Matters

When an employee’s addiction is no longer a secret at work, they may be concerned with the possibility of supervisors critiquing their work more harshly and suddenly making frequent performance complaints, or even upper management and human resources making them feel unsupported at work. When this happens, they are sure to have questions.

Can I be fired because of my addiction?

If you are wondering what the answer is to this question, the answer is – it depends. Different facts and circumstances will yield different answers.

Continue Reading When the Silence is Broken, and the Secret is Out. (Part 2)