I hear it all of the time during consultations. A potential client will tell me about the discrimination they have experienced at work. They will describe how they were the only member of a protected class (age, race, sex, disability, religion, national origin, color) who applied for a promotion and that in fact, they were the only one qualified for the position, but they didn’t get it. “You know,” they will continue, “I can’t think of anyone in my protected class who has been promoted to such a position.” I will then ask this person why they think they were not promoted. The person will then invariably say, “I think it was because of my protected class, but I can’t prove it.”
We asked Colin W. Walsh, an experienced Trial Attorney in the Austin office of Rob Wiley, P.C., to impart his candid answers to a range of questions. After reading, you will be more more informed on the well-respected reputation that Mr. Walsh carries.
1. What do you like most about being an employment lawyer?
I enjoy getting tangible results for my clients and being involved in an area of law that affects everybody every day.
2. What is the most important issue to you of being an advocate?
One of the most important issues to me as an advocate is to not only zealously represent my clients, but also the law.
3. What kind of clients do you like best?
I like the clients that I am able to help who were not able to find help elsewhere. On a couple of occasions now, a client has told me that my firm is the first one that has listened to his or her issue and offered any kind of assistance.
4. What do you think is the most important part of a good case?
The client. If the client is not invested, then the other side won’t take it seriously and neither will the jury.
5. What labor and employment issues do you think are currently trending?
The biggest employment discrimination issues I see right now are related to age, disability, and pregnancy discrimination. For some reason, these types of discrimination seem to be acceptable to employers. The other issues right now are minimum wage and overtime pay.
6. Who is your favorite Supreme Court Justice?
Justice William Brennan.
7. What would you say to HR of a company about how to treat employees?
It would be to listen to your employees. Most employees are not looking to sue when he or she goes to Human Resources. These employees are sincerely looking for help. Nothing makes an employee seek legal counsel like when he or she complains about something and HR starts investigating the employee instead of the complaint.
8. Besides Rob Wiley, P.C., what is the most interesting job that you have had?
The most interesting job I’ve had is working as an extra in film and television. I should have known that I was destined to be a lawyer at that point because two of my biggest gigs were the TV show “Boston Legal” and the film Charlie Wilson’s War.
9. What is your favorite food?
Meat pies. I first discovered them when I studied abroad in undergrad. I can’t believe these have not caught on in the U.S. because they are brilliant.
10. What’s the best part of living in Austin?
All of the outdoor festivals. And the Longhorns.
Colin W. Walsh is a Trial Attorney in the Austin office of Rob Wiley, P.C. He graduated from The University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s degree in theatre in 2006. Mr. Walsh then graduated from The University of Texas School of Law with honors in 2011.
One issue that comes up repeatedly is whether an individual is an independent contractor or an employee. The reason this comes up quite often in an employment law context is because most employment laws only apply to employees. For example, the retaliation provision of Title VII, which prohibits retaliation for reporting unlawful discrimination, expressly applies only to employees.** The difference also matters for benefits, overtime pay, minimum wage, and tax consequences. Very broadly speaking, independent contracts are usually cheaper for employers than employees. Because of that, employers often misclassify employees as independent contractors. This blog post looks at what that means.
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.
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.
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.
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
“Lopez responds that she suffered the following adverse employment actions as a result of her complaints: (1) she became the subject of actual sabotage in the workplace; (2) she was given a machine that usually had two operators, but she was supposed to operate it alone; (3) the men in the workplace were threatened not…
Defendant contends that even if there was a common illegal policy, the suit cannot proceed as a collective action because Defendant will assert defenses that require individualized analysis for each putative class member (Dkt. #22 at p. 12). Challenges in litigating the suit or a particular need to address each perspective member of the collective…
Plaintiff offers testimony that he performed the duties of a mortgage loan officer working for Defendant . . . . Plaintiff provides declarations of other individuals who claim the same primary job duty. Further, Plaintiff asserts that the “same pay practice” is Defendant failing to pay loan officers compensation tied to actual hours worked, denying…
Even if the attorney-client or work-product privileges were to apply, Herzing waived the privileges by asserting the Faragher-Ellerth defense. When a Title VII defendant affirmatively invokes a Faragher-Ellerth defense that is premised at least in part on an internal investigation, the defendant waives the attorney-client privilege and work- product doctrine for all documents created as…