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Union opposes new HR rules proposed by the city of Austin, TX

Washington, D.C.-based trade union American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees is wary of the language in proposed changes to a city’s policy regarding discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and employee conduct.

The rules that the trade union is in contention of are the ones that would affect an employee while the said employee is off duty as long as the “conduct is related to or relevant to an employee’s job”.

In a letter asking the Austin City Council to do away with such a provision, AFSCME business manager Carol Guthrie said, “We oppose any oversight of the private lives of employees in situations that have no impact on an employee’s ability to perform their job.”

If you need legal advice, assistance, or representation for your employment-related issue in Austin or other areas in Texas, do not hesitate to get in touch with our attorneys at The Melton Law Firm by calling our offices today at (512) 330-0017. Speak with a qualified member of our legal team as soon as you can.

Attleboro uranium plant ex-workers cite radiation for illnesses

A 100-acre plant for Texas Instruments on Forest Street in Attleboro may be the cause of death and illness for a number of ex-workers at the plant. The Bristol County, Massachusetts plant processed toxic chemicals, such as uranium, for nuclear reactors at the site.

Over two dozen former Texas Instruments employees – and the estates of former employees who have died – filed a lawsuit against the company in federal court, alleging it had lax safety standards. Supposedly, they negligently disposed of radioactive and toxic waste and failed to inform its employees of its irresponsible actions. Now, the employees want tens of millions of dollars in compensation.

Workers in Texas have the right to sue employers they feel are violating their rights in the workplace. If you feel your rights are undermined or if your employer is exposing you to unsafe working conditions, file a lawsuit with the help of our attorneys at The Melton Law Firm in Austin by calling our offices at (512) 330-0017.

Texas judge hinders implementation of Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule

Judge Marcia A. Crone of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas issued a preliminary injunction last Monday, October 24 against the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule. The regulation recently imposed by President Obama mandates that contractors who are looking for federal work should disclose recent law labor violations. Opponents of the law refer to it as the “blacklisting” rule.

Politico reported the groups who initiated the lawsuit – the Associated Builders and Contractors – “properly demonstrated immediate and ongoing injury to their members if the rule is allowed to take effect.” According to an ABC survey in September, 98% of the respondents said the contracting process would become more costly if the regulation took effect.

Our attorneys at The Melton Law Firm provide legal services for our clients in Austin and other areas of Texas. We also handle employment issues such as overtime and wage disputes, a hostile work environment, and equal pay, among others. Call our offices today at (512) 330-0017 if you feel your employer may be violating your rights.

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.

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.

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.

Company found not liable for employee attacking supervisor

A Texas Court of Appeals in Houston, Texas affirmed the decision made by the 149th District Court in Angleton to grant a staffing company’s motion for summary judgement, ruling that a workers’ compensation nonsubscriber is not liable for negligence.

Ramiro Najera, the plaintiff, performed responsibilities such as fumigating packaged rice and collecting garbage and dead pests when he worked for Freeport-based American Rice Inc. through manpower company Recana Solutions LLC.

In June 2012, Najera told his team that they would have to work late that day. One employee, James Prodoehl, begun to argue with Najera. It wasn’t until Najera threatened to report Prodoehl to their boss that Prodoehl started beating Najera with a hard hat.

Najera incurred shoulder and teeth injuries in the incident. He filed suit against Recana and American Rice, citing negligence, gross negligence, and respondeat superior – meaning that an employer is responsible for the actions of its employees throughout employees’ duration of employment. A lawsuit had also been filed against Prodoehl.

If you believe that your rights as a worker or employee have been abused and you reside in Austin or other areas in Texas, hire the legal services of our attorneys at The Melton Law Firm by calling our offices today at (512) 330-0017. Schedule an appointment with a member of our legal team today.

Austin firefighters, city agree on resolution to change hiring process

After the firefighters’ union in Austin seemed to have won an impasse with the city over new terms for a hiring process and cadet training standards, a Department of Justice (DOJ) attorney issued a letter threatening that the resolution may send the DOJ back to court. Subsequently, the union issued an amended resolution, KXAN reported on February 5.

The DOJ cited concerns about the delay of priority hiring of minorities in the letter to the union. After the amended resolution was passed by Austin City Council members, the council urged the city staff to hire an outside agency to test cadets within the timeline outlined in the DOJ Consent Decree, but only after the Austin Firefighters’ Association and the city reach a new employment deal.

The city of Austin and the firefighter’s association had yet to establish a new employment deal since the old agreement’s terms lapsed in 2009. According to the resolution, Austin’s capacity for diversity and fair treatment in the fire department depends on ongoing, collective bargaining.

If an employer has willfully or unintentionally violated your rights as employees and you live in the Austin area, seek the legal assistance of our attorneys at the The Melton Law Firm, who may advocate for your rights, by dialing (512) 330-0017 today.

Federal judge approves discrimination decree in Austin

Federal Judge Lee Yeakel recently resolved discrimination investigations beginning in April 2013 by signing a decree between the City of Austin in Texas and the Department of Justice concerning the state fire department’s hiring procedures, KXAN reported on November 7.

Results from the investigation prompted Yeakel to agree that discrimination was present in the hiring process and beyond. The decree requires the Austin department to hire 30 minority applicants who pass newly revised examinations. Those who are chosen will additionally receive $780,000 each in back pay.

On the other hand, the local firefighters’ union objected to the decree, claiming that empirical proof of intentional bias on the city’s part had not been present nor proven. It was also claimed that the exams were fair and non-discriminatory. Regardless, the decree will be put into effect.

The attorneys at the The Melton Law Firm know that, unfortunately, discrimination in hiring practices and employment is not uncommon. However, there are legal methods of recourse. Call our offices in Austin at (512) 330-0017 today to learn about your legal options.

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