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.

20201124_104652-203x300As the country heads into the second half of fall fraught with holiday breaks and the prospect of a second wave of COVID-19 on the horizon, child-care concerns remain prevalent. The holiday season brings vast uncertainty about school closings and the availability of other childcare options, normally, but this year that uncertainty is ratcheted up by adding in COVID-19. Therefore, it seems appropriate to discuss the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) and how it could help some employees navigate the season as our country continues to slog through this pandemic. The FFCRA was passed in mid-March of 2020 to try and provide relief to employees. This aid was partly carried out through the “Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act” or “expansion act,” which expands the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) to allow for some employees to take leave to care for their children. Below, there is a brief discussion on who gets to take this new child-care leave, how this new child-care leave operates, and what that means for employees who are attempting to take advantage of the new provisions.

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deontae-wherryThe False Claims Act (FCA) is a longstanding federal statute that was originally enacted to combat defense contractors who committed fraud against the federal government during the Civil War. Since the 1860s, the FCA has been revised and has become an authoritative tool to prevent fraud committed against the federal government. Understanding the federal government cannot know every individual or company who knowingly submit fraudulent claims, the FCA’s whistleblower provision allows individuals and employees to bring a qui tam action on behalf of the government.

Since 1986, after Congress strengthened the FCA, the government has recovered more than $62 billion in civil false claims. According to the Department of Justice, the government collected more than $3 billion in settlements and judgments from civil cases involving fraud and false claims against the government in the fiscal year 2019. Moreover, during the 2019 fiscal year, the government paid out more than $265 million to individuals, like you, who exposed fraud and filed qui tam actions. With these significant payouts, there is no reason to remain silent if you know your employer is defrauding the federal government.

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fadi-yousefWorkers’ compensation is a form of insurance that pays for wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured on the job or in the course of employment. Texas is a unique state that makes workers’ compensation voluntary for employers. For that reason, most private employers in Texas may choose to affirmatively “opt-out” of the state workers’ compensation system. Those who “opt-in” are called “subscribers” and those who “opt-out” are called “non-subscribers.”

In Texas, workers’ compensation retaliation is governed by Chapter 451 of the Texas Labor Code. Thus, a claim for retaliation is commonly known as a Chapter 451 claim. Chapter 451 makes it illegal for employers to discharge or in any other manner discriminate against an employee because the employee has:

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Employment law claims are undoubtedly the most difficult claims to bring forward. This is especially true if you are an employee in a conservative state like Texas. All other considerations aside, the financial and emotional cost of litigation alone is taxing. To make matters worse, the chances of success at trial in an employment law case is relatively low.rasha-zeyadeh

In 2019, The Harvard Law & Policy Review published a paper that found that from 1979 to 2006, plaintiffs won employment discrimination cases 15% of the time in federal court. Compare that to plaintiffs in all other civil suits who won their cases 51% of the time. The low margin of success for plaintiffs asserting employment discrimination claims can be attributed to many factors, including employer friendly laws, conservative judges and juries, and short deadlines. Continue reading ›

Most of the time, if an employee decides to talk to an employment attorney it is because they have been fired.  And even if reinstatement to the employee’s old job is a possibility, often when they were fired for an illegal reason they are understandably afraid of returning to the lion’s den to face retaliation.  But if you are an employee who was fired for an illegal reason and do not feel safe returning to that same employer (or your employer just refuses to take you back), it is critically important that you keep in mind your “duty to mitigate.”  This article explores some key points of that means, why it is important, and what you can do to fulfill that dutyaustin-campbell

The point of any employment lawsuit is ultimately “restorative,” to put the employee in the same place they would have been but for the illegal actions of their employer.  If feasible, that includes reinstating them to the position they lost.  But reinstatement is not always feasible, and it alone does not always fully compensate an employee for what they lost.  So, one major thing that most employment lawsuits usually ask for is compensation for lost wages (“backpay”) through the time of trial.  However, courts will not allow an employee to artificially increase what they can get out of a lawsuit by tactically increasing what the employee has lost.  Instead, courts impose a “duty to mitigate,” which means a fired employee who is asking for backpay in a lawsuit must make reasonable efforts to find and keep comparable employment.

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deontae-wherryIt is quite clear that the election season is upon us. From television ads to unsolicited text messages, there is absolutely no way to miss the importance of this election. This election shapes our future and the future for those we love. We must uphold our civic duty and exercise our right to vote.

In my colleague’s article Vote Now or Forever Hold Your Peace, she discusses the impacts this election will have as it relates to labor and employment law. Indeed, recent events have made us all wonder what the future holds for employees’ rights. It is not only the Supreme Court that impacts these rights but all of those who are up for election.

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fadi-yousefCongress passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010 shortly after the financial crisis, commonly known as the Great Recession. The Act’s aim was to “promote the financial stability of the United States by improving accountability and transparency in the financial system, to end ‘too big to fail,’ to protect the American taxpayer by ending bailouts, to protect consumers from abusive financial services practices, and for other purposes.”

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austin-campbellEmployees leaving a company can often wonder whether their former employer will insert itself into their future career. In particular, people can be worried about what former employers are allowed to say to jobs where they are applying.  “Can my old job sabotage my career?”  Texas has a patchwork of laws that apply to employment references that often differ dramatically from laws in other states.  The fact that companies can have their own reference policies only serves to confuse things more.  The purpose of this article to relieve some of that confusion when it comes to employment references in Texas.

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rasha-zeyadehThis presidential election is the most critical election of our time. Aside from the obvious presidential contest, all 435 seats in the United Stated House of Representatives, 35 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate, 13 state and territorial governorships, and numerous other state and local elections are contested. This election does not only decide who will occupy the oval office for the next four years, but also who will sit on our country’s highest court, and enforce our local laws.  The impacts of this election will be felt for years, especially in the context of issues involving labor and employment law.

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deontae-wherryHave you ever wondered about what the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) actually does? You are not alone. Every week, I speak to my clients or potential clients about the EEOC’s role in employment disputes. This article briefly explains the EEOC process, common questions, and why you may want to hire an employment attorney to assist you through the EEOC process.

What is the EEOC?

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