Articles Posted in Workers’ Rights

Employment Lawyer Deontae Wherry

Dallas Employment Lawyer Deontae Wherry

In 1994, Congress passed the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (“USERRA”) which protects military service members and veterans from employment discrimination because of their military service. USERRA requires that employers allow service members to regain their civilian jobs following their military service. Many states like Texas have implemented state laws that also protect service members at the state level.

Although one would believe Texas understands the importance of protecting our military service members, since it has passed laws to protect them, Texas has been fighting to protect itself from liability under USERRA.  Texas’ long battle has now come to an end, and now service members can sue state employers if they violate USERRA.

Paige Melendez

Dallas Employment Lawyer Paige Melendez

The newest shockwave to hit employment customs is the murmurs of a four-day workweek. In fact, Iceland recently declared their experiment with the four-day workweek a success. Belgian workers won the right to a four-day workweek in February, and the United Kingdom has set up a trial run that began this month with about 70 companies volunteering. Further, other countries are looking at the European peninsula to see how their experiment goes to consider instituting the shortened workweek. So, how could we get a four-day workweek in the United States? 

The first way is obvious but unlikely. Either the House or Senate would have to draft a bill that mandated a four-day workweek for all businesses. Then, the bill would go to the opposite chamber of Congress before a final agreed upon draft was sent and signed by the President. The chance of a bill of this magnitude, with the potential to cause ripples throughout all levels of industry and business, wading through the stagnant pond of Congress is low, so we turn to a second method.

Austin Campbell

Dallas Employment Trial Lawyer Austin Campbell

Summary: This article touches on some of the complex issues surrounding the apparent boom in unionization—will this be a sea change or just temporary? What are the implications of recent union victories in major multinational companies? 

There have been high-profile union victories in the news lately for the employees of major multinational companies, particularly Amazon and Starbucks.  The National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”), which oversees union elections and investigates “unfair labor practice” claims, has also gone to bat recently against those same companies for numerous allegedly unlawful tactics they engaged in during union elections.  It could be that unions are on the verge of a renaissance in the face of the “great resignation” causing a shift in the power dynamics between employees and employers.  Indeed, unions are more popular with the public now than they have been in generations.  

Dallas Employment Lawyer Fadi Yousef

Dallas Employment Lawyer Fadi Yousef

Earlier this month, Sheryl Sandberg announced her resignation from Facebook parent Meta Platforms, Inc. Her departure was a surprise to many people. Ms. Sandberg was the Chief Operating Officer of one of the biggest and most powerful companies in the world. She was the primary reason why Facebook scaled from a company with $153 million in revenue and 500 employees in 2007 to its current size, with more than 77,000 employees.

This past week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Ms. Sandberg decided to leave Meta after a years-long process of battling job burnout. She felt like she had become a punching bag for the company’s problems and that she was targeted in a way that would not happen to a man, according to the Journal. This caused Ms. Sandberg to become disconnected from the business and less visible publicly.

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.

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.

deontae-wherryBy all accounts, we can agree that the year 2020 was unconventional in every way. We were forced to live our lives in ways that many of us never imagined. And when we thought things were going to get better, it seems things only got worse. As we enter into the new year, it is our hope that our best days are ahead of us with the newly approved COVID-19 vaccine (“vaccine”). 

No one knows how long it will be before everyone is vaccinated or even if the rushed vaccine will work. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, while Americans’ confidence in the vaccine is increasing, many groups remain hesitant about getting vaccinated. It is becoming clear that whether we want the vaccine or not, employers are going to have a critical role in the administration of the vaccine.  This article discusses employees’ rights as it relates to employer-mandate vaccinations. 

On December 16, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) published its guidance related to workplaces requiring the COVID-19 vaccine. This guidance helps us better understand what we can expect in the days and months ahead. Nevertheless, employers must not violate employment laws in mandating or administrating the vaccine. 

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20201124_104652-203x300For an employee in Texas there are very few protections because Texas is an at-will employment state. An employer can fire an employee for any reason or no reason, and it is protected under Texas state law. The only thing an employer cannot do is terminate someone or take an adverse action against them for an illegal reason where their motivation is based on an employee’s protected characteristic. On that backdrop, it would seem that an employee has no recourse against an employer who is treating employees poorly, but not illegally. However, the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) does more than protect unions, it also creates an avenue for employees to raise concerns about the terms and conditions of their employment. The NLRA was meant as a way for workers to advocate for themselves, which most of the time takes the form of creating a union, but the protection is not limited to union members. Section 7 (aptly named “Rights of Employees”) states that “employees shall have the right…to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.”  This provision is given teeth by a later section which states that things like an employer’s interference with or restraint of these Section 7 rights is an unfair labor practice. The NLRA even created the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which is an independent Federal agency that operates to enforce these provisions. Based on this history and structure, the NLRA gives employees a toolbox that can be used to approach an employer about their employment and have that activity protected by law. 

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deontae-wherryOne of the greatest benefits of our nation’s growth is the diversity that comes with growth. It is undisputable that more and more individuals are calling America home. As a result, the workplace is becoming more diverse and more employees are speaking other languages than English. According to the Center for Immigration Studies (“CIS”), more than 67.3 million residents in the United States now speak a language other English at home. CIS found that this number more than doubled since the 1990s. Texas ranks among the leading states that has a large share of residents speaking a foreign language at home. I expect these numbers to continue to increase exponentially in the decades to come. 

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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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