Celebrating 20 years of representing Dallas employees, including Rasha Zeyadeh, Deontae Wherry, Fadi Yousef, Clara Mann*, Kalandra Wheeler, Jeannie Buckingham*, Austin Campbell, Julie St. John, Colin Walsh, and Jairo Castellanos. *Indicates non-lawyer staff.

Employment Lawyer Deontae Wherry

Dallas Employment Lawyer Deontae Wherry

Happy New Year! During this time of the year, many people set new goals for themselves hoping to improve the status quo. I am a firm believer that your environment affects your goals. For instance, a toxic supervisor or a hostile work environment can affect your professional goals. If you find yourself in a hostile work environment, you do not have to suffer in silence. This year, make it your priority to speak up, if you feel you are being subjected to discrimination and/or retaliation.

What does discrimination look like?

Austin Campbell

Dallas Employment Trial Lawyer Austin Campbell

Summary: This article gives a brief overview of the NRLB’s new Thryv, Inc., decision, and its implications for the landscape of labor and employment law.

The National Labor Relations Act is an often-overlooked part of employment law.  The National Labor Relations Board (the agency in charge of administering the NLRA) does far more than govern company-union relations (i.e., labor law).  It also protects employees, regardless of union membership, against retaliation for engaging in protected concerted activity regarding the terms and conditions of their employment.  This means, for instance, that two or more employees who talk to each other or management about some important workplace issue like wages, safety, or company policies may have legal protection if the company seeks to punish them for “rocking the boat.” 

One the greatest rights we have is the right to a jury trial. While many employment cases never make it to a jury, employees still have this fundamental right to attempt to get his/her case to a jury.

Over the last year, we have witnessed more employment cases being tried before a jury. One of the reasons we are seeing more jury trials is courts are trying to clear their backlogs from the pandemic, and the way to do that is by having jury trials and getting cases off their dockets. Another reason is people want their day in court. As a result, we have witnessed significant jury verdicts in employment cases.

I also realize that some people do not like juries. Why is this? Maybe it’s because your fate is in the hands of people that you do not know. Perhaps you may not feel confident that you will be given a jury of people who are truly your peers. That is okay if you are uncomfortable having a jury decide your case. You can always have a bench trial before the judge. I must admit getting a case to a jury is not easy, which is discussed by my colleague, Jairo Castellanos, in a recent blog.  But, for now, let’s discuss who jurors are, their purpose, and recent jury verdicts.

Paige Melendez

Dallas Employment Lawyer Paige Melendez

Whether you are last minute shopping or merely intend to do some shopping during the busiest shopping time of the season, we all know that stores become packed. This includes lines of people longer than normal, harried store associates racing to re-stock shelves and answer questions, and customers becoming less patient. It’s the last symptom that brings forward my trite recommendation for this holiday season: Be Kind. This mantra is used year-round for various purposes – believe me, I too roll my eyes – but in the context of an at-will employee diligently working during the winter, it makes sense to be reminded and here’s why. In my last blog I looked at how holiday hours are only beneficial if you can and do work overtime hours. This blog is about how workers are treated during those busy holiday hours by customers and store management. 

If you have ever had to work in any kind of customer service position or retail job, then you are aware that the holiday season brings a type of dread with it. Most customer service based positions and almost all retail positions are hourly employment jobs and deemed to be at-will. At-will employment in Texas means that there is no job protection for these workers, and they can be fired for any reason or no reason at all.  For example, take Rhonda – a cashier – putting in her very best efforts, battling the long lines of patrons and getting them through the checkout line as quickly as she possibly can. Drake, her manager, who is upset at how many customers are complaining during the holiday season, may not care about Rhonda’s best efforts. All he hears and cares about are the customers complaints over the predictably long lines. After being on her feet all day, and even working overtime hours with the store staying open late, Rhonda could be fired. Rhonda would have no recourse if her unreasonable manager terminated her employment for a legitimate non-discriminatory reason like customer complaints about long lines in front of her cash register. 

FFAD29BD-DCBE-46B6-9955-05B9B7DCBA83-200x300In October, the Biden Administration issued a highly anticipated proposal on how it will approach independent contractor status under federal wage law. The proposal, released by the US Labor Department, clarifies when workers should be classified as independent contractors or be classified as employees who are afforded many more rights, such as full minimum wage, overtime, and other protections provided under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

This is a potential game changer for millions of gig workers, who are often classified as independent contractors. This includes the quintessential Uber drivers and food delivery app drivers, but construction and agriculture have some of the largest representation of independent contractors in the country.

When this was announced, gig companies such as Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. worried about what this will do for their company, as stock prices took a tumble after the announcement. These businesses say their operating costs would skyrocket if they were broadly required to reclassify their independent contractors as employees, due to the tax liabilities and minimum wage, labor, safety, and other legal requirements that apply to employees.

Linh-Nguyen--300x300

Linh Nguyen Dallas Trial Attorney

If you’ve worked in the food service industry before, you know that the holidays can be hit-or-miss when it comes to tips. I spent years in the industry at a variety of different food establishments, working through many Thanksgivings, Christmases, and New Years. I would hope on these days that it would be like any other when I could expect to bring home the usual amount of tips from the night. If I got lucky, someone would be in high holiday spirits and extra generous; and if I was unlucky, someone would think leaving me a Christmas card made up for the $0.00 left on the “tip” line of the receipt (totally happened, and they didn’t even leave a message inside!).

But, of course, that’s the luck of the draw when it comes to the food service industry and being a tipped worker. There’s a lot that can be said about what needs to be changed or fixed in the industry, and you likely have your own opinions on whether tipping should even be a thing. However, this blog today is for my tipped workers who may not know all the laws surrounding what your employer can or can’t do with the tips you earned.

Paige Melendez

Dallas Employment Lawyer Paige Melendez

During the holiday season around my college campus, there was “common knowledge” that one of the biggest benefits of working retail on holidays like Black Friday was that you’d be entitled to time and a half solely because you worked on that day. Cut to becoming an employment lawyer and it’s time to debunk that myth. There are a few things that factor into working during the holiday season, which traditionally kicks off with Thanksgiving and more importantly, Black Friday. The first is whether a non-exempt employee can be forced to work on a holiday, then whether there are any additional benefits to working on a holiday that may make it worth it, and finally whether an exempt employee has access to these same considerations.

For starters, when I use the phrase “non-exempt” and “exempt” I am referring to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) denotation for employees who are entitled to overtime (and therefore “non-exempt”) and employees who are not entitled to overtime (and therefore “exempt.”) We are going to focus on non-exempt employees because that’s where the myth of extra pay originates. Turning to whether non-exempt employees can be required to work on a holiday like Thanksgiving or a federally recognized holiday, the short answer is: unfortunately, yes. The FLSA does not require employers to give employees days off even on a federally recognized holiday. Individual employers, of course, can decide to have truncated days or allow employees to request those days off, but there is no law requiring them to do so. There are a few exceptions to that rule, and they mostly involve employees that are allowed to have days off because of a different allowance like observing a religious holiday or where there is a collective bargaining agreement (union contract with employer) that allows those days off. Without an exception, the non-exempt employees are at the mercy of their employers. (There’s also that meme that says requests for days off are simply polite notices of non-attendance, but I would not recommend that strategy.)

Employment Lawyer Deontae Wherry

Dallas Employment Lawyer Deontae Wherry

Twitter’s new CEO, Elon Musk, cannot stay out of the courtroom. Just a few months ago, Twitter sued Mr. Musk after he attempted to walk away from purchasing the company despite the parties reaching an agreement. The court set Twitter’s lawsuit for trial in October 2022. Weeks prior to the trial, Mr. Musk unexpectedly agreed to proceed with his original offer to purchase Twitter.

When Mr. Musk officially acquired Twitter, he immediately terminated the company’s top executives. Mr. Musk did not stop there; subsequently, he randomly laid off several employees without notice. As a result, these employees are suing Twitter for not giving proper notice regarding their layoff. Less than a month into Mr. Musk’s leadership of Twitter, Mr. Musk and his company are back in the courtroom. One would think that an experienced executive would consult an attorney prior to unreasonably exposing his company to potential liability, but not Mr. Musk who seems to make impulsive decisions.

Austin Campbell

Dallas Employment Trial Lawyer Austin Campbell

Summary: This article briefly looks at the trend of the aging workforce—sensationalized or real? It also touches on some of the positive and negative impacts of that potential trend. 

In the last decade or so, the media has begun talking about the so-calledgraying” of the American workforce—the idea that people are working later in life and retiring later, if at all.  Sometimes this is talked about in almost apocalyptic terms when it comes to productivity and benefits.  First, this article touches on the actual extent to which that is true.  Second, because a lot of coverage of this phenomenon seems to be from a “macro” (i.e., employer’s) perspective, this article briefly explores some of the implications of that trend for the workers’ themselves.

Linh-Nguyen--300x300

Linh Nguyen Dallas Trial Attorney

If you have been on Twitter lately, you have likely borne witness to the numerous accounts of laid off former Twitter employees flooding the site. In the tumultuous days and weeks following Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, thousands of employees were laid off to offset the billionaire’s over-priced acquisition of the site. And if that wasn’t enough drama, numerous fired employees were then asked to return to their jobs as the site struggled to handle the massive reduction in its workforce.

  Twitter’s internal struggles are playing out in real-time on its very own platform, but it isn’t the only tech company to face large and even historic numbers of layoffs as of late. Meta and Facebook have cut over 10,000 employees each from its respective companies. Lyft and Stripe have also laid off approximately 13% of its workforce as well. According to Layoffs.fyi, a website which tracks tech job cuts, over 130,000 jobs have been lost worldwide in 2022 alone. 

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