Misunderstandings and disputes are an inevitable part of life, including in the workplace. However, there are steps that you can take as an employer to help prevent disputes and effectively deal with them when they do arise. Company policy handbooks, restrictive covenants, and employment agreements are all useful tools for creating a positive work environment.
If you are involved in a workplace issue as an employer or employee, speak with an experienced attorney at Sparks Law for representation. A Texas employment disputes lawyer could also help implement effective protocol for heading off issues before they worsen.
Texas employers can generally terminate employees whenever they choose. They do not have to pay severance money nor give a reason for termination. However, if employers do specify a reason for termination, it cannot violate national discrimination or harassment laws. Employees who suspect they are being discriminated against can file complaints against employers.
If an employee is working under an employment contract, the terms of the contract supersede at-will rules. These contracts lay out the terms of employment; for instance, the employee accepts negotiated wages for the time specified in the contract. An employer can still discharge an employee for violating a provision of the contract.
Employers cannot employ constructive discharge to get rid of troublesome employees. This occurs when employers purposely create an environment so hostile that an employee quits to escape it. In these types of employment disputes, it is best to work with a skilled local attorney.
Employers cannot allow or encourage discrimination in the workplace. Discrimination is an issue when an employee or a like group of employees are singled out for unfair treatment because of a specific characteristic. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) names protected classes that historically have been discriminated against, including:
All government employers and Texas private companies that employ at least twenty people must abide by all EEOC rules. Companies with fewer than twenty employees must comply incrementally depending on how many employees they have. Employees who believe they are targets of discrimination can file complaints with the EEOC and cannot be terminated because they do. A Texas attorney at our firm could appear for an employer before the EEOC regulatory board or in court if an employee brings a discrimination complaint.
Texas follows the federal minimum wage, governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), generally $7.25 per hour. Tipped employees must be paid at least $2.13 an hour. Tipped employees in Texas are those who receive at least $20 in tips each month. However, an employee’s hourly rate and tips must equal $7.25 per hour, or the employer will have to make up the difference. A knowledgeable employment disputes lawyer in Texas could explain other exemptions, such as for student labor.
Employees can also file complaints with the EEOC if they are sexually harassed in the workplace. These complaints arise when someone makes inappropriate advances, or if one worker harasses another and a supervisor does not do anything to stop it after the harassed employee reports it.
Sexual harassment could also included conduct that would be offensive to a reasonable person. A workplace disputes attorney can help Texas companies develop a protocol for reporting sexual harassment complaints.
Disputes in the workplace are inevitable, but they do not have to land you in court or before a regulatory board. You should give every employee a handbook that explains what conduct is expected and how you will resolve disputes.
If you have questions about any of these concepts, our Texas employment dispute lawyers have answers. At Sparks Law, we can provide a comprehensive employee manual, draft agreements, and represent you in court or before the EEOC. Call us to schedule an initial consultation today.