In litigation, the American Rule means that in a legal dispute, both parties are responsible for their own attorneys’ fees. No matter who the victor, each party pays their own way. For two large companies with sufficient funds to litigate a matter, this rule may not be very harsh.
We asked Kalandra N. Wheeler, a Trial Attorney in the Dallas office of Rob Wiley, 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?
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 Dallas office of Rob Wiley, 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.
Black History Month is a time to remember sacrifices and a time to celebrate advancements and achievements that paved the way for others. Certainly, the education and celebration of Black Americans should not be confined to one month. However, the month of February offers an opportunity to commemorate the past and look toward the future.
When looking to the past, there is no denying that the United States was a country built without wages, a country built on slave labor. Africans were ripped from their homes, brought to America, then sold and bought to work for nothing.
There was no ownership in what they built. There was no reaping benefits of what they sowed. There was merely endless labor for no wages, no rewards. Everything they did and made was for the profit and benefit of others – monetized by others to build a nation.
In this day and age, no one in the U.S. could imagine a scenario where they would work without pay and be chained and whipped into submission.
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Discrimination is real. Denying systemic racism, doesn’t make it nonexistent. In 2020, we’ve seen a resurgence of people actively fighting against race discrimination in large numbers. Police violence against Black Americans reignited a fuse. Protestors have taken their voices to the streets, have launched social media campaigns, and have organized to fight injustice where it thrives with hopes of real change.
Racial injustices can permeate every aspect of a person’s life. It can be four Black, young adults being pulled over by the police when they’ve done nothing wrong, only to have an officer say, “where are you coming from” and “can I search your vehicle.” It may be realizing you are being followed in a department store. It may be someone saying, “yeah, I have a problem with that Black teacher.” It can even be seen in the hiring, firing, and promotional practices of employers.
As you may hear over and over again, Texas is an at-will employment state. What that means is that there are limited protections for employees in the workplace. At-will employment means that employers can change the terms and conditions of a person’s employment, discipline an employee, or even terminate an employee for any reason or no reason at all. The actions of the employer may be unfair, they may be unreasonable, they may even be based off false allegations, but that does not mean that an employer’s actions are unlawful.
For an employer’s actions to be unlawful, the employer’s actions must be based on unlawful motivations. Unlawful motivations would be things like race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, or disability. These are just a few examples of the unlawful motivations an employer may have.
I’ve heard: “my vote doesn’t matter,” “the election is rigged,” and “I don’t have time.” If votes were of no consequence, politicians wouldn’t spend millions vying for your vote. If your vote had no value, there would be no history of people fighting for the right to do so against forces trying to deny that right to so many others.
January 1965 – the Southern Christian Leadership Conference launched a voting rights campaign in Selma, Alabama. In Dallas County, Alabama, where African Americans made up slightly more than 50 percent of the population, less than 1 percent of eligible African American voters were registered to vote. When attempting to register to vote, or organize others to vote, African Americans were harassed, assaulted, jailed, and even murdered.
In today’s world we cannot ignore that social media is a huge part of our everyday lives. What you post is available for others to see. Even if your social media accounts are private, your posts are available to be seen by your family, friends, and even coworkers once you’ve accepted or extended a “Friend Request.”
But, that’s my private life, right? It can’t affect my employment, right? Wrong.
Social Media and Applying for a Job
The Family and Medical Leave Act provides eligible employees with unpaid, job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons. When employees request or take leave, these workers have protections from FMLA interference and retaliation. This means that employers may not interfere with a worker’s rights to take FMLA leave and may not take adverse employment actions (e.g., write ups, demotions, terminations) against employees for exercising their rights under the FMLA.
Am I protected under the FMLA?
For employees to have protections under the FMLA, their employer must have a minimum of 50 employees within a 75-mile radius of the work location. Additionally, the employee must have worked for the employer for at least a year and must have worked at least 1,250 hours during that year. If all these conditions are not met, the employee may not be protected by the FMLA.
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.
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.
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.