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.

For a long time, there was a gray area under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and relevant case law when it came to accommodating pregnancy in the workplace. Under the current laws, discriminating against employees for being pregnant is illegal, but the current law’s protections do not extend far enough. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (“PWFA”) bridges this gap and goes into effect on June 27, 2023. Let’s explore the key provisions of this act and its significance in promoting workplace equality and supporting pregnant workers.

The PWFA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees. Examples of these accommodations include adjustments to work schedules, access to water and bathroom breaks, modified tasks, assistance with heavy lifting, and temporary transfers to less strenuous positions. The PWFA mirrors the process under the Americans with Disabilities Act for receiving accommodations. In brief, engaging in the interactive process would mean approaching your employer or putting your employer on notice of your pregnancy. Then, engaging in the interactive process by asking for accommodations and working with your employer to find a reasonable accommodation. 

The PWFA also mandates that employers provide written notice detailing their protections under the act. This includes information about the right to be free from pregnancy discrimination, the right to reasonable accommodations, and avenues for reporting violations. Additionally, employers are required to maintain records related to reasonable accommodations and make them available for inspection upon request. Both private and public employers are covered as long as an employer has fifteen employees including Congress, Federal agencies, employment agencies, and labor organizations.

I’ve always found it puzzling why other people take offense at someone else’s hair. When I was a child, I was captivated by the diverse hairstyles chosen by my relatives. Some rocked dreadlocks, afros, cornrows, and braids. At one point, I even tried growing out my own hair in the hopes of getting braids. I saw it as a way to express my pride in my black heritage. Unfortunately, my hair never reached the desired length.

As a result, I settled for low-cut fades, and that became my signature look. People grew accustomed to seeing me with a low-cut fade. However, there were times when I could not get a haircut and had to sport a small afro. Surprisingly, some individuals joked about my hair being unprofessional. I had never considered the possibility of my hair being deemed unprofessional because I consistently applied oil, combed or brushed it with care.

As I matured, I embraced my culture even more. Witnessing successful black individuals unabashedly embrace their heritage inspired me to be my authentic self. Sadly, some individuals, especially black women, feel constrained and unable to fully express themselves due to concerns about judgment based on their appearance, hairstyle, or even their employability.

Summary: This article explores some of the nuances of the Surface Transportation Assistance Act’s anti-retaliation provisions, and how they can help you as a transportation employee. 

The federal Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act provides protections for employees who blow the whistle on safety problems on the job.  However, those protections do not cover every safety concern or industry, and employees have an extremely short, 30-day window in which to file a retaliation claim with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).    

Fortunately, OSHA also enforces various other more specific whistleblower laws.  One important example is the Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982.  Among other things, that law provided broader protections for a narrower set of people: workers who drive commercial vehicles (including contractors), mechanics on commercial vehicles or employees who otherwise directly affect the safety of those vehicles, and employees who handle freight. 

April 20th or “Four Twenty” just passed and whether you chose to celebrate by engaging in marijuana use (within the confines of state and federal guidelines) or you used the day to engage in civic discourse regarding the legalization of marijuana, the true question is: what happens on Four Twenty-One. The reason why the day after “Four Twenty” is so important is because of the general understanding that employees have a higher potential to engage in marijuana use the day before. This brings up the question of drug-testing in the workplace. The legality of drug testing employees remains a controversial issue, with some arguing that it is an invasion of privacy, while others maintain that it is necessary to ensure a safe and productive workplace. Generally, drug testing is legal, but like always there are certain guidelines and caveats that employees should be aware of when an employer announces or requires a drug test. 

A good offense is a must when it comes to drug testing, that’s why it is an important first step to read up on the employer’s drug testing policy whether in the employee handbook, an online posting, or any new hire paperwork. The second step is understanding that an employer’s drug policy is not limitless because drug testing must still be conducted in a non-discriminatory manner. This means that employers cannot single out certain employees for drug testing based on their race, sex, age, disability, or other protected characteristics. An example of this would be if an employer announced a random drug test, but the “random” people chosen were all part of the same racial group. Thus, while an employer can legally drug-test its employees, there are limits to how the tests are conducted.

Part of learning about your employer’s drug policies is learning about what type of drug test is being administered. Some common tests include urine tests, blood tests, hair tests, and saliva tests, but each type of test has different detection windows, and some may be more accurate than others. If there are questions or concerns about the type or accuracy of a drug test, it is always best practices to email any concerns to human resources to create a record as well as to get answers directly from the source.

Rob Wiley

Dallas Employment Trial Lawyer Rob Wiley

A no-poaching agreement is an agreement between two or more companies not to hire or solicit each other’s employees.  It could be a contract between two companies in the same industry.  It could be a contract between a company and a vendor.

It’s easy to see why employers might be tempted to use non-poaching agreements, particularly in a tight labor market with low unemployment.  But the reality is that non-poaching agreements suppress competition for labor and limit employee mobility.  This will result in lower wages and benefits for workers.  This is particularly abusive to the worker who loses out on a job because the new employer is bound by an agreement the worker never signed (and may not even know about).

Short-term disability, long-term disability, and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) are three types of legal protections for employees who need to take time off from work due to illness, injury, or the need to care for a family member. While these protections may seem similar, they each have unique features and eligibility requirements that employees should be aware of. In this article, we will explore the differences between short-term disability, long-term disability, and the FMLA.

 Short-Term Disability

 Short term disability (STD) is a type of insurance that provides income replacement to employees who are unable to work due to a non-work-related injury or illness. The duration of STD benefits varies by policy, but typically lasts between three and six months. STD benefits are designed to provide employees with a portion of their regular income while they recover from an injury or illness, allowing them to pay their bills and meet their financial obligations.

When a company files for bankruptcy, the media plasters photos of their “going out of business” signs and empty storefronts to announce that the company could be no more. What is not shown is the complex, often long process of actually filing for bankruptcy. Filing for bankruptcy also comes in different flavors and different factors may help employees’ situations. To give a general idea of how bankruptcy affects employees, below we’ll look at the types of bankruptcy as well as examine the additional factors that may change the outcomes for employees. All in all, the announcement of bankruptcy can be terrifying for any employee that is currently employed by that company, but by learning more about the process it can help employees make more informed decisions. 

Beginning with types of bankruptcy, if a company files under Chapter 11, it means that the company may attempt to reorganize and continue operating under court supervision. In this case, the company may have to make difficult decisions such as reducing its workforce, closing unprofitable departments, or renegotiating contracts with suppliers and creditors. The company may also be able to negotiate with labor unions to reduce salaries or benefits temporarily. However, in some cases, employees may be able to keep their jobs or be rehired once the company emerges from bankruptcy. 

Another potential filing is under Chapter 7 or where a company is liquidated. Liquidation means that a business’ assets will be sold to pay off its creditors. In this case, employees will likely lose their jobs, and the bankruptcy trustee will use the proceeds from the asset sales to pay any outstanding wages and benefits owed to them. This situation is not ideal, but there’s still another option.

Summary: This article discusses some of the emerging issues employees have to contend with when it comes to employer surveillance, and briefly addresses the laws governing that. 

As we move more and more towards an information technology-centered economy—and especially as the pandemic dramatically increased the number of employees working from home, employers have begun to increasingly rely on surveillance tools to monitor their employees.  This article explores the limits of what they can do in Texas.    

Employers are monitoring employees using many different methods these days.  Beyond the “traditional” security camera, you may also encounter things like keyloggers, GPS tracking, audio surveillance, the requirement to have your webcam on throughout the day if working from home, reading employee emails/chat messages, or even social media stalking.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is one of the most modern and powerful tools for Texas employees with injuries and disabilities.  Since its inception, workers have had the right to take blocks of leave for a serious medical condition.  Workers have also had the ability to take intermittent leave, which allows workers to take medical leave on an as-needed basis.  But what about using FMLA leave to reduce an employee’s work schedule?  Is this qualifying FMLA leave?  In an opinion letter dated February 9, 2023, the Department of Labor ruled that an employee with a disability may use FMLA leave for a reduced work schedule if the reduction is a reasonable accommodation for the employee’s disability.

The FMLA is a federal law that provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for qualifying family and medical reasons, such as a serious health condition.

When an employee has a disability that affects their ability to perform the essential functions of their job, the employer has a legal obligation to provide a reasonable accommodation. A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to the job or work environment that enables the employee to perform the essential functions of their job without undue hardship to the employer.

There are certain skills that as we go through life we must obtain. One of those of those skills is knowing when enough is enough and it’s time to walk away. And it is a skill to be able to recognize that and act on the recognition. This skill is especially relevant in any type of legal process. The reason why is that sometimes moving forward is not the best action you can take and that’s a big decision, but hopefully some of the considerations below will help to illustrate good ways to analyze the choices made as a client. 

We’ll start with an example of a situation where a big decision must be made: do you file a lawsuit?

That decision should be informed by a multitude of factors and most of them have nothing to do with the law. I know, the law not being one of the main contenders seems like an odd stance, but there are so many relevant human considerations that should be taken into account instead. To take care of this, let’s suppose that the question of filing a lawsuit has already been decided – there are grounds to file, the Firm agreed, and the only decision to be made is whether to go for it. 

Contact Information