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.

rasha-zeyadehThis month the Supreme Court of the United States of America handed down one of the most long-awaited decisions of the term. On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court held that discrimination based on sexual orientation or transgender status constitutes discrimination “because of … sex” Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that protects employees and job applicants against discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, and religion. Before Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law, an employer could reject a job applicant or discriminate against an employee based on the applicant or employee’s race, color, national origin, religion, or sex. In fact, an employer could reject a job applicant or fire an employee or in some other way discriminate against that person because they were black or white, Muslim or Christian, a man or a woman, or German or Mexican, and it would be completely legal.

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deontae-wherryOver the last month, I have noticed an increase in the number of salaried employees who have become concerned about their paycheck. Some salaried employees have found themselves mandated to reduce their work to less than forty hours per week, and as a result to account for the reduction, their employers have threatened to reduce their pay. Conversely, other salaried employees have found themselves working significantly more than their traditional forty-hour work week as a result of the high COVID demands in their particular industry. However, some companies are not compensating employees for the extra hours worked – can they do that? Well, the answer is, it depends.

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fadi-yousefDiscrimination at work is one of the hottest topics of employment law. There are a number of federal and state laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of specific protected characteristics. Almost all of these laws protect not only employees, but also applicants for employment and sometimes even former employees who are retaliated against after their employment ends.

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austin-campbellThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is part of the Department of Labor and administers the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), as well as numerous other safety and whistleblower laws.  OSHA also sets safety standards for various industries.  Because of OSHA, many employers have a general duty to prevent working conditions that pose a risk of serious and recognized harm.

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rasha-zeyadehThe Coronavirus pandemic has severely impacted American workplaces. Employees in various industries have reported cuts in work hours, cuts in salary, job-loss, and instructions to work from home. While the world as we know it is changing and adapting to the “new normal,” discrimination laws remain the same. Employees are still protected against discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. This is true even if you are working from home.

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deontae-wherryThe restaurant industry is known for stealing hard-earned tips from its employees. This practice has been going on for years, yet it continues to be a paramount issue in the industry. As a restaurant employee, you may have asked yourself the following question because you have seen it done time and time again: Can my manager take my tip? Am I obligated to pay for a walked tab? Do I have to share my tip with cooks? The answer to all of these questions is likely no.

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fadi-yousefLikely yes. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) requires employers (or their plan administrators) to notify qualified employees of their entitlement to the continuation of the same health coverage that they would have otherwise lost due to specific qualifying events, like a job loss. Failure to do so may expose the employer to statutory penalties of up to $110 per day, reimbursement of medical bills incurred by the employee, and the employee’s attorneys’ fees and costs.

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austin-campbellThe Family and Medical Leave Act gives eligible employees the right to up to 12 weeks of protected, unpaid leave during any 12-month period. Probably the most important part of FMLA leave is the “protected” aspect—the right, when your leave ends, to be restored to your old job or an equivalent position. Unfortunately, that is not always as straightforward as it sounds, and many employees have been surprised by what was waiting for them at the end of their FMLA leave. An employer that does not return you to work as required by law may be liable for interfering in your FMLA rights.

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rasha-zeyadehThe outbreak of COVID-19 has caused unprecedented changes to the lives of individuals across Texas and across the globe. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”), expands unemployment benefit assistance to workers who are eligible under state and federal law before COVID-19 as well as extending benefits to workers who were not eligible for unemployment benefits assistance prior to COVID-19, including self-employed individuals, independent contractors, and gig workers.

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deontae-wherryEarned Paid Sick Leave

In 2019, the City of Dallas joined our other Texas cities when it passed the Earned Paid Sick Leave Ordinance. This ordinance requires employers to provide up to 64 hours of paid sick leave. While courts have restricted the enforcement of similar ordinances around the state, beginning April 1, 2020, the City of Dallas will begin enforcing this ordinance to ensure that employers are providing paid sick leave to employees. It is our hope that courts do not eventually restrict the City of Dallas from enforcing this ordinance to protect employees.

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