Articles Posted in Workers’ Rights

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.” 

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.

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.)

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.

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.

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