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Houston Legal Blog

How do the holidays affect your workers' paychecks?

The holidays may bring comfort and joy to many, but if you are a business owner or manager, your holidays may consist of headaches and worry. Your employees may be wanting time off for celebrations, spending time shopping online, and more concerned about the office Christmas party than completing their tasks. In the midst of the scheduling nightmare, you may be confused about your budget, especially when it comes to holiday pay for your workers.

Depending on the industry in which you work, you may have to schedule employees to work during the holiday. Some employees may volunteer to take the less desirable shifts, but others will make it clear they do not want to work on the holiday. Are you required to give them time off? Are you required to offer them more pay for working those shifts?

Women more likely to identify harassment at work

Women in Texas workplaces often have different views of sexual harassment than their male colleagues. While this may seem to be common sense to many people, it is also backed up by the results of a nationwide survey of male and female workers. The questions about sexual harassment were included in the American Family Survey, a poll with questions about marriage, children and public policy. Questioners asked respondents about various types of behavior, asking whether each action was a form of harassment.

Women were more likely than men to identify specific behaviors as sexual harassment when carried out in the workplace. In some ways, this difference may be due to the widely variant experiences of women and men in the workplace. While nearly 60 percent of women said that they had experienced some form of inappropriate treatment at work, only 28 percent of men said the same. Over 25 percent of women said that they had been subject to unwanted advances by people in positions of authority at work or school, compared to 12 percent of men.

Investigation finds Tesla has a racism problem

Texas workers may have had their own experiences with racism or discrimination in the workplace. According to the New York Times, Tesla has had several complaints from black workers about how they were treated while at the company. Among the complaints includes racial slurs being used, offensive drawings on bales of cardboard and not being given opportunities to advance within the company. While the company denies the allegations, a lawsuit was filed in 2017 by three former Tesla employees.

The suit claims that both colleagues and superiors within the organization used slurs and created racist drawings. In a statement, Tesla said that there was no followup with management about these allegations. However, one of the plaintiffs in the case said that this was not true and that no disciplinary action took place. While Tesla says that it wants to create a workplace that respects all workers, a statement from Elon Musk puts that into doubt to some observers.

Trademark infringement and other examples of unfair competition

No Texas business owner wants his or her company's success unfairly undermined by competitors. While competition is most often unavoidable when it comes to any type of business venture, companies could carry out certain actions that do not necessarily benefit their operations but that do harm the operations of another company.

As a business owner, you want your business to succeed, but you want to achieve that success fairly. When another company uses unscrupulous methods to get ahead, you may wonder what options you have. Fortunately, depending on the circumstances, you may have reason to take legal action against unfair competition.

L'Oreal's racial discrimination lawsuit

Employees in Texas and elsewhere in the U.S. who feel that they have faced workplace discrimination may be interested in the development of a recent lawsuit against L'Oreal. The plaintiff, a former vice president of digital marketing for the beauty supply company, is suing for racial discrimination that concluded with her being fired.

During her time with the company, the plaintiff allegedly had experiences with colleagues and superiors that led her to believe she was a victim of racial discrimination. For example, on a company trip to Europe, she had an encounter with another L'Oreal vice president that left her feeling threatened and disrespected because she was black. She submitted an internal complaint, and her boss promised to address the issue once he returned from vacation. However, instead of having her complaint addressed, the plaintiff was subsequently fired.

Nurse should be paid overtime for on-call work, court says

Some on-call Texas employees may be eligible for overtime pay even if they do not work throughout the entire on-call shift. In an Ohio case, a court ruled that a nurse who was on call every other weekend should have been paid overtime because of the lack of personal time the work allowed her.

The nurse was on a 48-hour on-call shift every other weekend in addition to her usual schedule. The hospital had also moved her from exempt to non-exempt in 2016. Non-exempt employees are eligible for overtime, but the hospital did not document its reasons for making her non-exempt. She was paid regular time for the on-call shift, but the court agreed that she should have been paid overtime. Although she did not work for the entirety of the shift, she did work an average of 25.4 hours.

Gaming company faces discrimination lawsuit

Some people in Texas may have read an investigative report published a few months earlier by Kotaku that said the company Riot Games had a culture of harassment and discrimination. Riot Games is facing a lawsuit from a former and a current employee alleging a sexually hostile workplace, violation of the California Fair Pay Act and gender-based discrimination.

After the investigative report was published, a number of employees came forward to speak on the record about their experiences working at Riot Games. The studio apologized in an August open letter and outlined its future plans. However, there was further controversy following an event at PAX West aimed at women and non-binary individuals that resulted in two people leaving the company. The company has since added an executive who worked at Uber to its Diversity and Inclusion team.

Do you get paid for coming in on your day off for a meeting?

Sometimes, it's just not possible to schedule a meeting that can include all of the relevant people at a time convenient for everyone. This means that you might have to come into work on your day off in order to attend a mandatory meeting.

If you happen to be one of the people affected by this quandary, then you may wonder whether you get paid for attending that meeting. The answer is -- maybe.

Mothers experience disproportionate workplace discrimination

It's been recognized for some time that the average female worker in Texas earns less than a male counterpart performing the same duties, and significant attention has been focused on this issue in an effort to level the playing field. Although some progress has been made, a clear wage gap continues to exist. With this background, it may seem surprising to learn that a subset of women in the workplace are the subject of even more pronounced discrimination: moms.

A recent study found that mothers face bias on the job more than fathers and single individuals and actually earn less money for every child they have. It's not about being a parent; the researchers sent out dummy resumes that indicated the fictitious applicant's status and discovered that although mothers were half as likely to get a call back, fathers were contacted more often than single men.

Growing contractor labor force lacks discrimination protections

As more people in Texas and across the country operate in the "gig economy," they could lose key protections against workplace discrimination. Most people don't expect to face racial, gender, age or disability discrimination on the job, especially as they are prohibited by law. However, American employment laws are largely made to protect employees, and people who work as freelancers and independent contractors often aren't covered by the provisions of those labor laws.

Whether people drive for a ridesharing service, teach online classes or perform pet-sitting services, they are usually treated as independent contractors, not employees. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that millions of Americans rely on these jobs for most or even all of their income. Around 14 percent of American workers described themselves as independent contractors or involved in some kind of contingent employment relationship, and around half of those are classified outside the framework of laws against employment discrimination.

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