Articles Posted in Discrimination

Paige Melendez

Dallas Employment Lawyer Paige Melendez

The dissolution of abortion rights that should be guaranteed as substantive due process rights have a direct impact not only on healthcare, but on employment. I know that’s odd to say, but it’s a person’s personal health decision that should not be interfered with, even by their employment. However, with the Supreme Court’s decision a flurry of companies began to step in to protect abortion rights in a private sector way. This is untenable as a solution. While helpful in the short-term, it creates a complex picture for employment discrimination. 

As a hypothetical, let me set up Grayson. They are currently pregnant and would like to access abortion in a different state. Their employer is Be Free Sporting Goods who has promised that they will give time off and leave to allow Grayson the opportunity to pursue abortion access outside the restrictive laws of states like Texas. Despite this being a personal healthcare choice between them and their doctor, Grayson now has to disclose their decision to access abortion to their human resources department. Be Free is a big corporation – their decision is not communicated to one person, not even two people, but several people must work on the request before it is approved. Grayson’s request is then denied because Marla in the human resources department has a sincerely held religious belief that abortion is wrong. And this juncture is where the private sector’s “solutions” to abortion access fall short.

Employment Lawyer Deontae Wherry

Dallas Employment Lawyer Deontae Wherry

Suppose both husband and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, have worked for Democan in the marketing department for 15 years. The couple loves their job because they can help their pastor with his re-election campaign. For most of their career, the couple has reported to the marketing director, Joe Abbott. Mr. Abbott retired seven months ago. Democan then hired Donald Paxton as the new Marketing Director.

Since his first day, Mr. Paxton has had a crush on Mrs. Johnson. Mr. Paxton waits until Mrs. Johnson is alone then he approaches her in the backroom and begins to caress her body. Mrs. Johnson tells Mr. Paxton to stop as his actions were unwelcomed and made her uncomfortable. Mr. Paxton continued with his actions, and Mrs. Johnson continued to ask him to stop. Mrs. Johnson had enough, so she engaged in protected activity by filing multiple sexual harassment complaints with human resources. Human resources did nothing. By this point, Mrs. Johnson feared going to work, so she decided that her only option was to file a charge of discrimination (“charge”) with United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). After she filed with the EEOC, she notified human resources and Mr. Paxton that she formally filed a charge with EEOC.

Time does not stop for anyone. There are time limits for filing claims against your employer. In fact, state and federal claims have different deadlines for different types of claims. When pursuing a claim against your employer, it is important to note the statute of limitations for the claim you intend to pursue. The biggest mistake I see employees make is waiting too long to pursue a claim. If the statute of limitations for your claim has expired, you will not be able to pursue your claim – even if you have a strong claim. There’s no way around it. Below are some of the most common employment-related claims and each claim’s respective statute of limitations.

Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Harassment, Hostile Work Environment, and Retaliation.

Claims of discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, hostile work environment, or retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, must first be filed with the United State Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). A complaint with the EEOC must be filed within 300 days of the adverse employment action. An adverse action can range from a write-up to termination. If you do not file a charge of discrimination or retaliation with the EEOC within 300 days of the adverse action, you lose the right to pursue your claims in court.

Paige Melendez

Dallas Employment Lawyer Paige Melendez

At first glance, describing owing a debt in any way “good” seems erroneous, but most debts cannot be appealed. For the Texas Workforce Commission or TWC, overpayment decisions that state that a claimant for unemployment benefits has been overpaid and now owe that money back are not out of the ordinary. Typically, overpayment notices occur when a claimant has lost their appeal to qualify for unemployment benefits or the initial claim is found to be invalid. In TWC land, practically everything is appealable and the same is true for overpayment notices. And that is what creates the good news. If you have received an overpayment notice saying your unemployment benefits were overpaid, you have that same 14-day window to submit your appeal either for the overpayment itself or for the issue that resulted in an overpayment. 

To appeal the overpayment determination for federal extended unemployment compensation, the TWC looks at whether the payment was made non-fraudulently, the overpayment was not the fault of the claimant, and that forcing a claimant to repay the amount would go against equity and good conscience. Within those categories the TWC considers things like whether a claimant received benefits even though they knew they were not eligible, whether the overpayment was a result of a decision on appeal, or whether financial hardship will befall the claimant if they are forced to pay it back. 

The death by suicide of Cheslie Kryst was a big wake up call. Mental illness is prevalent amongst Americans now more than ever. According to data collected by Mental Health America, Texas is the second most prevalent state for mental illness.  As a Texas employee, you should be aware of the resources available to you. 

Historically, many cultures have viewed mental illness as a form of religious punishment or demonic possession. Negative attitudes toward mental illness persisted into the 18th century in the United States, leading to stigmatization of mental illness, and confinement of mentally ill individuals. As a society, we still have negative views of and oftentimes downplay the severity mental disabilities. In fact, I just watched an episode of the Bachelor where one contestant mocked another because she suffered from ADHD. I was disgusted by such a display of ignorance, but at the same time, was proud that mental health was being talked about on a such a widely televised platform. 

I say that to say that although there are individuals who still have negative attitudes toward mental illness, it is no longer a taboo topic that we must be hush hush about. In 2021, approximately 19% of adults experienced a mental illness, which is equivalent to 47 million Americans. In addition, 7.67% of adults reported substance abuse disorders in 2021. Approximately 10.7 million or 4.34% of adults experienced severe suicidal thoughts in 2021. These are just the statistics for adults. Children also experienced high rates of depression, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts.

Employment Lawyer Deontae Wherry

Dallas Employment Lawyer Deontae Wherry

Perhaps you have filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and you have been requested to respond to the employer’s position statement. But, you do not know where to start. You may be asking yourself a few questions such as “What is a position statement?”  and “What should be included in my response to the employer’s position statement?”. This article will, hopefully, answer some of your questions concerning your response to the employer’s position statement. 

A position statement is the employer’s responsive statement to the claims presented in the employee’s charge of discrimination. It is simply the employer’s opportunity to share its version of the facts. While the EEOC states a position statement should be “clear, concise, and complete,” position statements are often the complete opposite. They are generally inundated with policies that are unrelated to the claims at hand and a host of issues concerning the employee’s performance. However, do not panic—here are a few tips:

Employment issues will again take center stage at the U.S. Supreme court on January 7, 2022, and appeals related to vaccine mandates are sure to be the main attraction. Alas, vaccine mandates will be squarely before the Court and audiences nationwide will soon receive some clarity from the nation’s highest Court regarding vaccine mandates in the workplace.   

Enforcement of the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandates applicable to government contractors, CMS and large employers had been stayed or partially stayed by various federal courts.  The OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) applicable to most employers having 100 or more employees was stayed by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals prohibiting enforcement of the rule.  However, on December 17, 2021, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which was chosen by lottery to hear the consolidated appeals challenging the ETS, dissolved the stay that the Fifth Circuit put in place. Thus, employers with 100 or more employees that are not specifically exempt from the standard due to disability or religious belief must now take steps to comply with the emergency rule. Judge Stranch delivered a gripping opinion addressing the question that has been vexing employers since the beginning of the pandemic:

Recognizing that the “old normal” is not going to return, employers and employees have sought new models for a workplace that will protect the safety and health of employees who earn their living there. In need of guidance on how to protect their employees from COVID-19 transmission while reopening business, employers turned to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA or the Agency), the federal agency tasked with assuring a safe and healthful workplace.

Dallas Employment Lawyer Fadi Yousef

Dallas Employment Lawyer Fadi Yousef

It is no secret that in the past few years companies have been moving their principal places of business from progressive states, like California or New York, to Texas. Texas has been known as a “business-friendly” state, and for good reasons. Among other things, Texas has a healthy economy, a prime location in the center of the country, no state income tax, and affordable cost of living.

One major factor that doesn’t receive much publicity is Texas’s far less-restrictive labor & employment laws. After all, a company relocating thousands of its employees to work in Texas means a lesser risk of violating more restrictive laws in states like California or New York.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Love them or hate them, this is the time of the year during which employers are finalizing holiday party plans. After a long pause on holiday parties due to Covid-19, many employers are gearing up for their first holiday party since the pandemic.  Work holiday parties are a time for employees to get together, socialize, and celebrate a year well done. This is your opportunity to shake hands with the movers and shakers. However, holiday parties are notoriously known to pose serious risks for employees, especially if alcohol is served.

Let’s address the big Texas elephant in the room. Texas is an “at-will” state. That means your employer can fire you for no reason or any reason, short of unlawful discrimination or retaliation. In Texas, termination caused by your actions at a work holiday party is no exception to the “at-will” rule.

Following the holiday season, I typically notice an increase in consultations from employees who were terminated based on their behavior at a holiday party or who were either sexually harassed or discriminated against at a holiday party. A typical misconception is that your behavior and your employer’s behavior at a holiday party is not subject to workplace polices or procedures or employment laws. However, you are still subject to workplace policies and your employer is still subject to labor and employment laws, regardless of whether the party is held at work or off-site.

Employment Lawyer Deontae Wherry

Dallas Employment Lawyer Deontae Wherry

COVID-19 has dictated much of our daily activities over the last 20 months. It seems that COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon neither is the vaccine mandate. Yesterday, President Biden’s administration fulfilled its promise that it would take more aggressive steps in getting more Americans vaccinated. The administration announced additional vaccine mandates affecting more than 100 million workers. In this article, I will explain what this mandate means for employees.

Coverage

Contact Information