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Texas Employment Blog

U.S. EEOC files lawsuit against nursing home for disability discrimination

Marble Falls-based Granite Mesa Legend Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center fired a certified nurse assistant when he told the facility he was HIV-positive, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) claimed in a lawsuit filed last Tuesday, October 4.

According to the lawsuit, Granite Mesa Health Center, Ltd. unlawfully required a medical examination of a member of the nursing staff after he disclosed he tested positive for HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). According to EEOC senior trial attorney Patrick Connor, “The limited avenues for transmission of HIV/AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) have long been understood by the medical and health care community. The employer here nonetheless made decisions based on unfounded fears and misperceptions rather than on correct, current medical knowledge about HIV infection.”

Employers have the responsibility of providing a working environment for employees that makes them feel safe – physically, mentally, and emotionally. However, in some situations, employers do not follow this basic tenet of common human decency and resort to the unfair treatment of their employees. If you face discrimination in Austin, call our attorneys at The Melton Law Firm today at (512) 330-0017 to see what we can do for you.

Around 600,000 workers will soon benefit from paid sick leave

President Obama announced on Thursday, September 29 that his administration will be implementing a new rule to extend sick leave to almost 600,000 workers who currently lack the benefit. Workers will now be earning up to seven sick days in a year.

In an interview with Slate, Obama outlined the importance of the new rule, saying: “It will give additional paid sick leave to more than 1.1 million federal contract workers in the first five years, including nearly 600,000 who currently receive no paid sick leave at all.”

“Since I first called on them to act, we’ve seen four states pass paid leave laws. Over 25 locations have taken action on paid sick leave and 22 localities took action on paid family leave. California, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Vermont have all passed bills concerning this issue, joining Connecticut, which did so in 2011. Philadelphia, Chicago, Minneapolis, and St. Paul have joined also trailblazers like San Francisco, Seattle, New York City, and the District of Columbia in requiring paid sick leave for folks working in their cities. Businesses have heeded the call, too, and some businesses now require their suppliers to provide paid sick leave as well.”

Our attorneys at The Melton Law Firm can provide legal services to our clients in Austin and other areas of Texas, handle employment law cases such as retaliation and wage disputes cases, among other things. Speak with a qualified member of our legal team by calling our offices today at (512) 330-0017.

Texas files another lawsuit against the Obama administration

President Barack Obama recently updated regulations determining which employees are eligible for overtime under the Fair Labor Standard Act’s minimum wage and overtime pay protections. The Department of Labor’s new and improved overtime rule, which was issued in May 2016, will be implemented in December of 2016.

However, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says the new rule is too burdensome for the state’s employers, calling it Obama’s “latest illegal action.” He sued Obama last Tuesday, September 20 on behalf of 20 other states aside from Texas, including Nevada, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Nebraska, New Mexico, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Wisconsin.

The new rules seek to increase the salary threshold below which most white-collar, salaried workers are eligible for overtime. Now, you will need to make under $913 per week (or $47,476 for a full-year worker) instead of the current $455 per week (or $23,660 for a full-year worker) to qualify for overtime.

At The Melton Law Firm, our lawyers have extensive experience when it comes to helping employees in Austin who have suffered from workers’ rights violations. Call our offices today at (512) 330-0017 to see how we can help you obtain the restitution you deserve.

Illinois to provide sick leave benefits to employees caring for relatives

Illinois will officially implement the Employee Sick Leave Act on January 1, 2017. The new act requires employers to grant sick pay for employees whose immediate family members find themselves ill. This new policy can also be thought of as the “kin care” law.

The intention of the law is to complement the one recently passed in Chicago, which provides the same level of sick pay benefits for employees. A similar law is pending in Cook County. The Employee Sick Leave Act provides benefits for family members including an employee’s spouse, domestic partner, child, sibling, parent, in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or stepparent. In other words, if any of these family members are sick, an employee can take time off from work and collect sick pay benefits from their employer, with the understanding that the employee is taking time off to care for the afflicted family member.

Our employment lawyers in Austin at The Melton Law Firm can provide legal assistance to those who were treated unfairly at their workplace. Speak with a qualified member of our legal team by calling our offices today at (512) 330-0017.

Expedited permit for construction projects passed by City Council in Austin

A new resolution that seeks to include worker protections was approved by the City Council of Austin on Thursday, September 1. The Council added the resolution to a new program intended to expedite the permit process for construction projects.

The worker protections include mandating that construction workers be paid a living wage of $13.03 per hour, receive proper Occupational Safety and Health Administration training, and be able to obtain workers’ compensation. Also, the plan dictates that 30% of the construction pool should come from local workers, companies must comply with employment laws, and a third-party onsite monitor should be present on site to make sure safety standards are being met.

Bo Delp, Better Builder program director for the Workers Defense Project, welcomed the development for the industry, but said that this might pose some dangers to construction workers. Delp noted “More construction workers die in Texas than in any other state. One in five report being seriously injured. 50% don’t even get overtime pay. That was according to a study that was done in collaboration with the University of Texas.”

Our attorneys at The Melton Law Firm provide legal services for our clients in Austin, handle cases that deal with employment issues such as hostile work environments and civil rights violations, among others. Call our offices today at (512) 330-0017 to discuss your situation.

Acccount manager sues orthopedic center for illegal employment practices

Houston resident Meseret Mesfin is suing the Reconstructive Orthopedic Center of Houston, claiming that it is guilty of unlawful employment practices in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family Medical Leave Act.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed August 9th, Mesfin took medical leave for a serious condition with the consent of her employer on March 17, 2016. However, she was fired by her employer on March 30, while she was still out on medical leave.

Mesfin had worked as an account manager for the defendant since June 2014 for over 40 hours a week without getting overtime pay, the lawsuit added.

Consult with an employment attorney at The Melton Law Firm in Austin if you feel that your Texas employer has been unfairly treating you or has violated fair employment practices by calling our offices today at (512) 330-0017.

Former Buc-ee’s employee sued for breach of contract

Kelley Rieves, a former assistant manager for Buc-ee’s, was sued by her employer in the 165th State District Civil Court for breach of contract. Buc-ee’s claims that Rieves allegedly left the company in July 2012 even though her contract clearly stated that she should remain employed with Buc-ee’s until at least August 2013.

According to the lawsuit, Rieves started working at the store’s Cypress branch in 2009, but she resigned with a year left in her contract. The company said that Rieves owed them $67,720 in retention pay, which was paid to her assuming she would complete her contract. They added that Rieves’ contract was designed such that her salary was divided into normal pay and retention pay, and that her contract says she should give six months of notice before resigning. A judge ruled that Rieves owes Buc-ee’s $100,000 including legal fees and interest; she is working with her attorneys to appeal the decision.

Our employment lawyers at The Melton Law Firm provide legal services for clients in Austin and other areas of Texas, and we handle employment law issues such as wrongful termination and wage disputes. Call our offices today at (512) 330-0017 to discuss your employment issue.

City of Austin employee sues for gender discrimination

Austin Watershed Protection Department Managing Engineer Mapi Vigil, who worked for the City of Austin for close to 30 years, sued the city for gender discrimination. The lawsuit came after Vigil applied for an assistant director position but was passed over for a male candidate, despite her high performance reviews and years of loyalty.

Vigil filed an internal grievance with the city’s human resources department to complain about the promotion of a less-qualified male candidate. However, the grievance officer denied her complaint. Her supervisor then gave her a two-day suspension, threatened to fire her, and slapped her with a written reprimand for being disrespectful. After HR opened an investigation into allegations of unprofessional conduct made by her supervisor but ignored Vigil’s recording of her conservation with the supervisor, she filed a complaint with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Vigil’s case ended up going to court, where a grand jury awarded her $751,000 in compensation for the retaliation she faced.

You can hold your employers accountable for their unfair actions toward you by filing an employment lawsuit against them with the legal help of the attorneys at The Melton Law Firm. Call our Austin offices today to learn more at (512) 330-0017.

Federal chemicals safety agency slams Tesoro for unsafe working practices at its Martinez site

The United States Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB), in a 60-page report issued last Tuesday, August 2 showed that San Antonio, Texas-based petroleum refineries company Tesoro Corp. failed to follow basic safety procedures over a period of many years that caused 19 employees to be injured or be exposed to injury.

The Golden Eagle Refinery in Martinez, California was the site of two major sulfuric acid accidents – one in 1999 and another in 2014 – that caused injuries, some fatal, to many workers.

CSB said the second accident on March 10, 2014, which released 84,000 pounds of sulfuric acid, had similarities to the 1999 incident at the refinery when it was owned by a different company that caused the death of four people; this situation implies that Tesoro did not change safety practices to avoid similar acid spills after it bought the Martinez facility in 2002.

Workers in the state of Texas are provided with legal protections under state and federal law that are made to make sure that they get fair and equal treatment from their employers, and also to be assured that they are provided a safe working environment by their employers. Call our attorneys at The Melton Law Firm at (512) 330-0017 if these safeguards are not being met.

Rent-A-Center sued for transgender bias

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit on Thursday, July 21 in the United States District Court in Urbana. They are fighting on behalf of a former employee against a branch of the furniture company Rent-A-Center. Both the employee and EEOC allege that the 1404 E. Grove Avenue location in Rantoul, Illinois treated the former worker unfairly because she is transgender.

EEOC’s Chicago director Julianne Bowman said a pre-suit administrative investigation was able to uncover evidence that the company’s managers took the gender transition of the former employer in a negative light. Rent-A-Center thus found a pretext to fire her, an action that violates provisions set forth in Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964.

The provision establishes penalties for people who discriminate based on sexual orientation in the workplace. Bowman said the EEOC first tried to secure a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process but was not successful on that end.

Our attorneys at The Melton Law Firm represent individuals in Austin and other areas of Texas who are experiencing employment concerns. If you suffered unfair treatment at the hands of your employer, or if you are subjected to unscrupulous or unlawful business practices, call our offices at (512) 330-0017.

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