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Employment Lawyer Network:

Michael W. Fox (Editor)

Texas Employment Law

(512) 344-4711

Click for Full Bio

Michael W. Fox, Esq., of Ogletree Deakins in Austin, has more than 30 years of experience representing employers. He has been Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 1980 and is a Fellow in the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. He has been regularly listed in the Best Lawyers in America in Labor and Employment Law, as a Texas Monthly ’Super Lawyer’ in employment litigation.

3 lawsuit-proof alternatives to layoffs

With business slowing nationwide because of the coronavirus pandemic, many employers have already laid off staff, and many more fear they will have to do so soon. Before you commit to wholesale reductions-in-force, there are three alternatives worth considering.

Sugar Land, Texas manufacturer settles sex harassment suit

Element Plastics, a manufacturer based in Sugar Land, has settled charges it sexually harassed and retaliated against a female employee.

Multiple FLSA violations cost employer $100,000

Tostada Regia restaurants in Houston will pay 438 employees at its eight locations a total of $100,126 after it found multiple ways to violate the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Confessing previous firing doesn’t equal defamation

Potential employers often ask up-front whether an applicant has been fired for cause in the past. Recently, a fired worker tried to claim that having to reveal the past amounted to self-defamation. It didn’t work.

Signed arbitration agreements are valid in Texas

A solid arbitration agreement likely will be enforced under Texas contracting law.

Warn supervisors: Never harass or retaliate against workers who take FMLA leave

Train your supervisors on all forms of harassment, including harassment against employees who exercise their FMLA rights. Making life difficult for those who have taken or may take protected FMLA leave can backfire badly.

Gay teacher, suspended for photo of fiancée, wins $100K

An Arlington, Texas art teacher who was suspended for eight months after she showed students a photo of her then-fiancée has accepted a $100,000 settlement offer from the Mansfield Independent School District.

Demonstrate good faith by keeping thorough notes detailing your investigations

Judges don’t want to second-guess employer decisions. But they do want to see that employers act in good faith when they terminate workers. That makes it essential to document every investigation that might lead to a firing.

When documenting discipline, note all details

When an employee files a lawsuit alleging discriminatory discipline, she will point to other employees outside her protected class who were treated more leniently. It’s critical for employers to document the details that distinguish one case from another.

Track who made discipline recommendations

If you leave discipline and termination decisions to specific managers, be sure to track who has input in those decisions. If you don’t conduct a thorough and independent investigation into the underlying reasons, you may end up rubber-stamping a discriminatory recommendation.