Former employee reapplies? Beware retaliation lawsuit

Consider this before dismissing a request for reinstatement or new job application from a former employee: She may be trying to set up a lawsuit alleging that turning her down amounted to retaliation. Don’t fall into that trap.

One stupid comment from boss doesn't automatically create sex bias liability


Of course, supervisors should never say anything off-color, insensitive or downright stupid. Unfortunately, it happens. However, it takes more than one dumb outburst to support a discrimination claim unless the comment is obviously highly offensive. Less than that, and an employee’s lawsuit is likely to be tossed out.

Substandard work before FMLA leave? Beware retaliation suit for later poor reviews


Don’t think that just because an employee was a poor performer before she requested FMLA leave, a poor review after the request can’t be retaliation. If there is other evidence of retaliation (like a direct statement that FMLA leave was a factor), then the previous poor performance won’t be much of a defense.

Beware subtleties of 'regarding as disabled'


Employers can be liable under the ADA if they “regard” someone as disabled—that is, assuming and acting as if the person has a disability. That’s true whether the worker is disabled or not. Telling an employee she should pick up medical forms to apply for disability benefits and sending her home until she does apply probably means the employer regarded the employee as disabled.

Harassment victim wins suit, comes up $832 million short

A jury in New York City has awarded a  woman $18 million in her sexual harassment lawsuit against her former Wall Street boss.

Halliburton to pay more than $18 million for FLSA violations

In one of the largest recoveries of overtime wages in recent years for the U.S. Department of Labor, oil and gas service provider Halliburton has agreed to pay $18,293,557 to 1,016 employees nationwide.

Do help desk staffers qualify for the FLSA's computer professional exemption?

Q. My company is switching to a new technology platform that will require many hours’ worth of IT support at the help desk level. The job must be done quickly, but we don’t have the resources to hire new staff. I’ve heard “computer people” are exempt from overtime requirements. Is that true?

Know the risks associated with hiring third-party workers

After the NLRB’s recent decision regarding its new, broader standard for “joint employer” status, it’s a good time to remind employers of a few of the consequences of the joint employer doctrine when engaging third-party contractors.

Suburban Dallas bar settles pregnancy bias complaint

Arthur’s Bar & Restaurant in Addison, Texas, has agreed to settle a pregnancy discrimination complaint for $20,000.

Oilfield services firm settles retaliation suit for $30,000

Garrison Contractors, a West Texas oil-industry construction company, has agreed to settle charges it retaliated against a female employee after she reported sexual harassment.

Slightly lower evaluation rating isn't retaliation

To constitute retaliation for engaging in protected activity, an employer has to do something that would dissuade a reasonable employee from complaining in the first place. A poor evaluation, by itself, isn’t enough.

Fired for gun in trunk: Can employee sue?

A court is about to tackle a tricky issue: Does a state law authorizing employees who park in company lots to keep guns locked in their trunks also create a right to sue if the employee is fired for gun possession?

Not so fast! Texas whistle-blowers must pursue internal remedies before they can sue


Texas law requires public employees who are fired by their employing agency to pursue internal appeals of that decision. Otherwise, they can’t sue in state court over alleged wrongful discharge for whistle-blowing. Government employers should make sure they raise that defense if they don’t have any record of the worker making an internal appeal.

Confidential customer lists may be trade secrets even if the names are available elsewhere

Good news if you need to protect your customer lists from competitors: You can require employees to sign confidentiality agreements to block taking customer lists to the next job even if it’s theoretically possible for the competitor or someone else to put together the same information from other, publicly available sources.

When accommodation is impossible, it's OK to discharge disabled worker

Not every disability can be accommodated in a way that enables an employee to perform the essential functions of his job. Sometimes, the disability simply can’t be accommodated. When that’s the case, you may terminate the employee. If he sues, you must be ready to show what the job’s essential functions are and that it simply isn’t possible for the disabled employee, given his specific disabilities, to perform those functions.
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