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Houston Legal Blog

Did you face unfair treatment after filing a complaint at work?

Going to work is something that most people do on an almost daily basis. You may have enjoyed your employment for the most part, but there are instances in which you may feel as if the environment is not the best. While you may have let some issues slide at first, you have likely felt the need to speak up if you experienced or witnessed wrongdoing continually.

In many cases, employees can follow policies set out by their employers when it comes to filing complaints. Though you may have followed this process when expressing your concerns about harassment, discrimination or other issues at work, the situation may not have garnered the outcomes you desired.

Can you avoid going to court on your discrimination claim?

One of the reasons you may have hesitated to even make a complaint about what you believe to be discrimination against you is because you didn't want the attention. All you want is to do your work and be left alone. Unfortunately, the situation reached the point where you had to do something.

Now, it looks as though you could end up in court because you feel your employer didn't adequately address your concerns. Fortunately, you may not have to take your claim to court.

Even though you are an intern, should you be compensated?

An intern, according to the dictionary, is a trainee -- typically a student or new college graduate -- who works for a company without pay to gain employment experience. It is difficult to get a good job in Texas or elsewhere without a padded resume. An internship can beef up your resume, making you stand out from the crowd. Unfortunately, depending on the duties assigned to you as an intern, you may end up working for free when you really should be compensated for your time.

While there is a line between intern and employee, there is also a gray area which allows some employers to take advantage of the situation. Employers do have the right to hire interns. They also have the right to not pay them, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act. They can only get away without offering monetary compensation, though, if the internship primarily benefits the intern. How can you tell if you or the employer are the primary beneficiary of your internship?

What do you need to prove quid pro quo sexual harassment?

When you accepted a position with your employer, you more than likely had certain expectations. You expected the atmosphere to be one of camaraderie and mutual respect. Sadly, it didn't turn out that way.

Perhaps your supervisor began making insinuations that if you engaged in sexual acts with him or her, you could get better assignments, a better schedule, a promotion or some other benefit. Maybe it was suggested that putting up with your boss's sexual advances would help you keep your job or keep you from receiving a less-than-stellar review. If this is your situation, you are likely the victim of "quid pro quo" sexual harassment. "Quid pro quo" means "this for that" or "something for something" -- in this case, sexual favors for employment.

Filing a formal complaint at work may help address wrongdoing

Problems at work can make anyone's life feel off balance. You may stress that your employer thinks you are not doing a good job, or you may feel that you are not getting along with your co-workers. While these feelings can stem from relatively harmless twinges of anxiety, it is also possible to feel uncomfortable at work due to mistreatment.

Though employment laws work to protect you and other workers from discrimination, sexual harassment, wage violations and other issues, employers do not always adhere to the law. As a result, you may face illegal treatment on the job and soon dread even going into work. However, you do not simply have to accept that mistreatment.

What does the FLSA say about minimum wage and overtime?

No one wants to feel unappreciated or cheated while at work. You may not necessarily love your job, but you appreciate the paycheck that comes along with the work you put in. Your employer may not always seem to appreciate you in the same manner, but you can overlook a lack of encouragement and pats on the back as long as you receive your deserved compensation.

Of course, you may face major issues if your employer does not properly pay you. In fact, if your employer violates the Fair Labor Standards Act, you may need to explore your legal options in order to determine the best course of action to ensure that you receive the compensation you rightfully earned.

Is your boss treating you differently now that you're pregnant?

In today's workforce, men do few things that women can't. In real life, there is one thing that women can do that men can't -- get pregnant. This one differentiation has the potential to undo all of your hard work, and not because you will soon become a mother.

Instead, the danger to your career could come from your employer. You should know that pregnancy discrimination happens often enough that the federal government passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act to protect you.

New overtime regulations headed to OIRA review

Proposed overtime rules from the U.S. Department of Labor have reportedly been sent for review to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. The labor department designed the rules to replace the regulations that were meant to take effect on December 1, 2016, but were instead declared invalid by a federal district court in Texas.

The OIRA will determine if the proposed regulations comply with Executive Order 12866. This order tasks the agency with the consideration of alternatives, incorporation of public comments and measurement of costs and benefits. The review process does not require a minimum amount of time although the agency could spend 90 days or more on the assessment. A previous announcement from the Wage and Hour Division at the DOL scheduled a notice of proposed rulemaking for March 2019.

Strong contracts can prevent disputes with employees

As a Texas business owner, you understand how important it is to strongly defend the interests of your company against any type of legal claims from your employees. You also know that the best offense is a good defense, meaning that a smart way to protect your company is to avoid disputes whenever possible. One way you can do this is by drafting strong employee contracts.

You may not think that contracts for your employees are necessary, but they can provide various protections for your business. Regardless of how large or small your company is, you may want to consider the legal protections that will allow you to avoid potential issues in the future. Employee contracts are smart, simple ways to clearly define the role, rights and responsibilities of both parties.

How breastfeeding discrimination impacts mothers

Texas mothers who return to work after giving birth still need to take care of their children. However, not all employers provide the resources that they need to successfully breastfeed. Workers who are denied accommodations and speak out against their employers could be at risk of losing their jobs. According to one study, roughly 66 percent of those who claimed breastfeeding discrimination were eventually out of work.

Breastfeeding discrimination can take a variety of forms, such as comments about a woman's breasts or not being given a private place to pump milk. Workers who are terminated for asking for breaks to pump milk could also be victims of discrimination. Research indicates that such discrimination is more likely to occur to women who work in fields dominated by men. Although females make up 16 percent of workers in such fields, they accounted for 43 percent of breastfeeding discrimination claims.

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