Kalandra Wheeler
Texas Employment Lawyer Kalandra Wheeler

When workers are considering employment, they often take into consideration the benefits and perks of a job. Whether these perks are big or small, they add value to one’s employment. They even influence one’s quality of life outside of work. Some employees may take things for granted, not realizing that a benefit that they enjoy is really a perk freely given by the employer. They may mistakenly think that a perk is protected by some law when it is in fact not. 

During the holiday season a perk that some employees enjoy is overtime (bonus) pay when they work on the holidays. A perk that other employees may enjoy might be paid holidays off. Yes, these are most assuredly perks, as the law does not require that employers provide either of these benefits to their employees.

I remember my first job and working through the holidays, including Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. My manager would always ask if there were volunteers for holidays. There were always volunteers. Double time-and-a-half was good motivation. This was even better than the typical overtime pay! However, workers should know that this was not required. 

Overtime pay on holidays is not required unless those additional hours place a non-exempt employee (employees entitled to overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act) at more than 40 hours in a workweek. But, as a general rule, employees should know that there are no Texas laws or federal laws that require that employees receive overtime or any other special pay merely for working on a holiday. Yes, an employer can require that their employees work on Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve at their regular hourly rate.    

Similar to the lack of any requirement that an employer provide additional pay for working on holidays, there is nothing in Texas or federal laws that requires an employer pay employees for time off given on the holidays. For a non-exempt, hourly employee, this means that an employer can give an employee the holiday off, or even be closed on Thanksgiving, depriving the employee of a workday, and there is nothing in the law that requires the employer to pay the employee for that holiday. 

For exempt, salaried employees, the rules are different, but they too require an understanding of the law. Exempt employees must be paid their full weekly salary if they worked any hours during the holiday week when their employer has made the choice to close for the holiday (e.g., Thanksgiving).  However, there is nothing in the law that even requires an employer to observe any holidays. So, if the employer is open for business and requires that exempt employees work, they are required to work. This also means that an exempt employee, depending on the nature of their work, may be required to work more than 40 hours in a workweek during the holidays with no additional compensation. 

There are very few laws that provide protections and benefits for employees. However, there are employers out there willing to provide additional compensation to those employees sacrificing time with family or loved ones to work on the holidays, and other employers that are able to provide paid holidays off due to the nature of their business operations. Employees should know that these employers do so without legal obligation. Nonetheless, if you are an exempt employee being docked pay when your employer closes for the holidays, or a non-exempt employee working more than 40 hours per week without receiving overtime pay during the holiday season, our employment lawyers are available for consultation. Happy holidays and thank you to all the employers that try to do more for their employees during the holiday season than what is required by law.   

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Photo of Kalandra N. Wheeler Kalandra N. Wheeler

We asked Kalandra N. Wheeler, a Trial Attorney in the Houston office of Wiley Wheeler, P.C., to provide her sincere answers to a range of questions.  After reading, you will be more more abreast with the understanding and competency that Ms. Wheeler

We asked Kalandra N. Wheeler, a Trial Attorney in the Houston office of Wiley Wheeler, P.C., to provide her sincere answers to a range of questions.  After reading, you will be more more abreast with the understanding and competency that Ms. Wheeler brings.

1.Why did you start practicing labor and employment law?

I wanted to be able to help people that otherwise might not find help. Labor and employment laws affect most of society.  And – whether our results help one or many – our work and efforts as employment lawyers touch people in a real way in their every day lives.

2. Who is your favorite Supreme Court Justice?

Thurgood Marshall.

3. What do you think is the most important part of a good case?

The client. Good facts and evidence are definitely important. But good clients are a lawyers’ most valuable asset.  A good client: (1) is invested in their case; (2) works or worked hard for their employer; (3) can tell their story clearly and concisely; and (4) is someone that a jury will find sympathetic and relatable.

4. If you could write a new law, what would it do?

The Texas Workplace Anti-Bullying law.  I hear the stories, the ones told by employees looking for help. And in far too many of those stories the law offers no solution.  Every employee that goes to work and works hard to do the job they are hired to perform should be able to do so without abuse, harassment, and bullying. There is no justification for bullying, not in our schools, and not in our workplaces.

5. Besides Rob Wiley, P.C., what is the most interesting job that you have had?

For a year before law school, I worked as a lube tech for Jiffy Lube.  I spent hot summer days, working on hot cars, changing oil or flushing transmissions or radiators.  I never had a customer come back with a complaint.

6. How do you market yourself differently than others?

I tell clients what they need to hear, not necessarily what they want to hear. Before a client begins down any path toward resolving an employment dispute, they need thoughtful, honest advice. I am a believer in justice and everyday people deserve competent representation in an arena that is difficult for non-lawyers to navigate.

7. What do you do when you’re not practicing law?

I spend time with family and friends.  I read true crime books.  I sew and draw.

8. How would you describe the color yellow to someone who could not see?

It’s not the intense heat of the sun during the month of August, but instead the softness of the sun on your skin just as the seasons change from Summer to Fall.  It’s warm. And soft to the touch.  It’s fresh squeezed lemonade with a hint of sugar.  Slightly cool, inviting, and happy.

9. What’s your favorite legal TV show?

Law & Order: SVU

10. If you could argue any case in history, what would it be?

The Karen Silkwood case. But really, I think that would be more about arguing and trying a case alongside Gerry Spence for the learning experience.

Kalandra N. Wheeler is a Trial Attorney in the Houston office of Wiley Wheeler, P.C.  She graduated from The University of Houston with a bachelor’s degree in political science.  Ms. Wheeler went on and received her law degree from The University of Arkansas.