As the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) begins moving through the backlog of unemployment appeals and through the sheer glut of unemployment claims, many claimants that were originally awarded unemployment claims are finding themselves being asked to repay that money. Often times through no fault of their
We asked Jairo N. Castellanos, 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. Castellanos carries.
1. Why did you start practicing labor and employment law?
I think labor and employment law is a fascinating part of the law that impacts everyone. Most people spend nearly as much time at work as they do with their family.
2. Who is your favorite Supreme Court Justice?
My favorite sitting justice is Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
3. What skills do you value as an employment attorney?
I think an important skill to have as an employment attorney is the ability to tell people’s stories. It is important to be able to effectively convey entirety of the case beyond the legal aspects of it.
4. What do you do when you’re not practicing law?
I like to read fiction and spend time with my daughter.
5. What’s your favorite legal movie
That is a toss-up between A Civil Action and My Cousin Vinny.
6. What’s your favorite legal TV show
Always Sunny in Philadelphia when they are discussing bird law.
7. Have you ever learned something from one of your clients?
I’ve learned that there is no one size fits all solution to dealing with issues. Much like there is no one size fits all way of approaching a problem.
8. If you could argue any case in history, what would it be?
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.
9. What do you most want your clients to know about you?
That in me they can find someone that will fight his hardest for them regardless of the outcome.
10. Who’s your favorite judge?
Former Chief Justice John Marshall
Jairo N. Castellanos is a Trial Attorney in the Austin office of Rob Wiley, P.C. He graduated from The University of Nevada in Las Vegas with a bachelor’s degree in 2009. Mr. Castellanos then graduated from The University of Texas School of Law in 2015. Mr. Castellanos is fluent in English and Spanish.
Hospital workers and employees of other patient care facilities have some of the most difficult jobs out there. The enormous amount of stress, pressure, and difficulty in performing these vital jobs has only been made worse this past year by the global pandemic that has swept across this nation. Given the huge amount of responsibility and the sheer importance of the jobs carried out by hospital workers, it is now more important than ever that COVID-19 safety procedures be followed. This is only possible if workers are allowed to freely report violations of COVID-19 safety procedures. Luckily, Texas law agrees. In this article I will discuss the very basics of the Texas Health and Safety Code and how it may be able to help you create a safer working environment.
Under the Texas Health and Safety Code, employees of hospitals, mental health facilities, and treatment facilities are protected from retaliation by their employers if they make a report of a violation of law, which includes a violation of the code itself, a rule adopted by the code, or a rule of another agency. Moreover, if a time gap of less than 60 days is between when the report is made and an adverse action, which can be a termination, suspension, or a demotion, takes place, the law states that there is a rebuttable presumption that the adverse action took place because of the report.
On December 22, 2020 the Department of Labor unveiled a final rule that will put into place a large swath of changes that will affect tipped employees across the country. One of the most troubling changes that will take effect is that employers will now be able to claim a tip credit on back of the house staff, which means that employees who are not traditionally and customarily tipped will now be able to participate in tip pools. This means that cooks, janitors and other traditionally non-tipped employees will be able to claim a portion of the tips that front of the house employees receive. Fortunately, this change will not be extended to managerial staff, who will still be unable to participate in the tip pool. At the moment, this new rule change is set to take effect 60 days after December 12, 2020.
Generally speaking the FLSA mandates that employers must pay their employees a minimum of $7.25 an hour for the work they perform. Among the various exemptions and loopholes that are found within the FLSA is an employer’s ability to claim a “tip credit” on certain tipped employees. When an employer elects to take a tip credit it allows them to pay the selected employees only $2.13 an hour so long as those employees still make a minimum of $7.25 an hour when the tips they have received are taken into consideration. Moreover, an employer is able to pool together all of the tips earned in a night and disperse it among the tipped employees. This is called a “tip pool.”
As a precursor to filing a lawsuit under the laws that the EEOC enforces such as Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, employees must first file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. As it stands now, the vast majority of these charges are dismissed by the EEOC. But not because these charges lack merit. The dismissal is often necessitated by a lack of resources and investigators. Often times this leaves the EEOC unable to conduct a proper investigation into the thousands of charges that are filed each year with the federal agency.
At this moment, the EEOC is on the precipice of making two major changes to the process of how the federal agency is going to handle the dismissal of charges of discrimination. These changes will include a change in the procedures in which the dismissals are processed, and they will include a change in the dismissal language contained in the right to sue letters that the EEOC issues upon the dismissal of a charge of discrimination. I will attempt to briefly outline some of the dangers and benefits of these changes
On September 22, 2020, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced a new proposed rule that would, if it becomes final, change the test the DOL uses to determine if a worker is an “independent contractor” or an “employee” under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The result of this proposed rule change will inevitably be that thousands of employees will be reclassified as independent contractors under the FLSA. The FLSA is the federal law mandates employers to pay their employees minimum wage, overtime for time worked over 40 hours, and other record keeping requirements. My goal is to provide a brief overview of the new proposed changes and hidden dangers in the DOL’s proposed rule change.
On August 27, 2020, the Fifth Court of Appeals of Texas at Dallas reversed the dismissal of Fernando Herrera’s Texas Whistleblower case against Dallas Independent School District. In doing so, it ordered the case back to the trial court for further proceedings.
The lawsuit alleges DISD terminated Mr. Herrera because he complained to Child Protective Services (“CPS”) about suspected child abuse by other DISD teachers. The lawsuit was initially filed in June 2018 in Dallas District Court.
The lawsuit states Mr. Herrera made two reports to CPS. The first report was made on or about March 31, 2017 after Mr. Herrera witnessed a DISD teacher inappropriately touching a student in front of several other teachers. The second report was made on May 16, 2017 after a concerned parent informed Mr. Herrera she suspected a teacher inappropriately touched a student. On May 17, 2017, DISD put Mr. Herrera on administrative leave.
One would be hard pressed to find someone who does not know that we are afforded free speech under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Similarly, we are also afforded the same right under the Texas Constitution Article 1 Section 8. Indeed, there are very few rights that are as well-known as the right to free speech, yet, the implications or effects that this fundamental right has in our workplace are often misunderstood and overestimated. My goal is to help clarify or shed light on a few misconceptions that I often see in my day to day practice.
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?
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.
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