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)

In March 2020, Governor Abbott joined several other governors around the nation to formally declare COVID-19 to be a public health disaster. Subsequently, Governor Abbot issued several executive orders limiting commercial activities to only those that were considered “essential businesses.” This meant that many Texans were left without work and eligible to receive unemployment benefits to help them through these troubling times. As we enter the gradual re-opening of businesses, a large swath of pressing questions presents itself to many workers that are worried about what could be seen as a premature action in light of the health risks. I will aim to shed light on two major questions that are frequently posed to us.

Continue Reading What The Reopening of Businesses Could Mean For Your Unemployment Benefits And Work From Home Status

Unfortunately, we are living in a day and age when a lot of people are being laid off, furloughed, or terminated. According to an article in the Texas Tribune, more than 1.5 million workers in Texas filed for unemployment benefits with the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) from mid-March to mid-April. This is a staggering number. Additionally, many people have had to quit their jobs because of COVID related issues. This post will generally describe who can apply for unemployment benefits, the process people go through after applying for benefits, the standards TWC relies on to decide if an individual applying for benefits will get them, and the appeal rights for workers who are denied benefits to which they believe they are entitled.

Continue Reading Applying for Unemployment Benefits

You saw your boss, coworker, or subordinate do something that you believe is illegal. Maybe they stole money from the company. Maybe they falsified or altered a report. Maybe they lied to shareholders. Maybe they asked you to do something that you believed was illegal. You want to report it, but you also want to know whether you can be fired for your whistleblower activity.

Continue Reading Whistle(blow) while you work