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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.


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.


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.


Wills Point woman files suit against city of Van

Wills Point resident Cathy McCoy filed a lawsuit on Thursday, July 14 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas against the City of Van, claiming sexual harassment and wrongful termination.

According to the legal complaint that McCoy filed, the city subjected her to a hostile work environment, sexual harassment, discrimination, and eventually unlawful termination between May 2014 and July 2015. McCoy said after a training officer sexually harassed her, the City of Van refused to transfer her to a new training officer. She was therefore exposed to a hostile working environment every day for the duration of her employment. The city fired her after claiming that she did not have the ability to complete her training, McCoy claimed. McCoy is suing for emotional pain, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of wages, and loss of enjoyment of life.

The employment attorneys at The Melton Law Firm handle employment concerns and problems such as hostile working environment and wrongful termination cases. To learn more about your legal options and rights or to discuss your situation, speak with our attorneys by calling our Austin offices today at (512) 330-0017.


Disabled workers in the labor force

A new report from the United States Department of Labor issued last Tuesday, June 21 showed that for working-age persons with disabilities, rates of employment and labor-force participation are rising. The numbers for both metrics increased between 2014 and 2015 after steady dips following the economic recession.

For instance, disabled men who are between the ages of 16 and 64 saw their employment-to-population ratio decline to an average of 28.1% in 2014, down from 31.7% in 2009. For their non-disabled counterparts, the same measure plunged in 2010 and has climbed each year after that. Cornell University and University of Texas at Austin economist Richard Burkhauser said that even though 2015 showed positive developments for employment and labor-force participation among the disabled, there is still a long-term trend of decreasing employment for those with disabilities.

Employees should be protected from employers who violate their rights or discriminate against them for having a disability. If you feel you were discriminated against because of your disability, get in touch with an attorney at The Melton Law Firm by calling our office at (512) 330-0017. We may be able to help you fight for compensation against disability discrimination.


Texas nondiscrimination laws reach 12 cities

As of Monday, June 6, Texas has 12 cities with populations of more than 100,000 that have instituted legislation that establishes protection for residents or city employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The newest addition to this list is the city of Mesquite.

For more than ten years, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Austin have held ordinances that protect members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual community from discrimination in employment, housing choices, and public spaces like restaurants and public transportation. Of Texas’ major cities, it is Houston that does not want to budge. On November 3, 2015, 61% of voters in Houston voted against a measure that established discrimination protection for LGBT residents. LGBT employees in Houston are now protected by a nondiscrimination measure only via an executive order. Fort Worth was the first city in Texas to institute protection for all individuals based on sexual orientation in 2000, which it expanded to include gender identity in 2009.

If you have faced discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation, the attorneys at The Melton Law Firm may be able to help you receive compensation. Contact us at (512) 330-0017 to discuss your personal situation.


Fired APD officer sues for wrongful termination

Former Austin Police Department Officer Blayne Williams, who was fired from the force in 2015, is appealing his termination, claiming that he was fired for filing a discrimination complaint against the department.

In his lawsuit filed on Thursday, April 28, Williams says that his termination from the police force is unjust because he was not informed of complaints filed against him, which is a requirement of the civil service. He also attributes his termination to a discrimination complaint he lodged against the police department in 2011, saying he felt he received different treatment than his white counterparts. City of Austin spokesman Bryce Bencivengo said that the city stands by Police Chief Art Acevedo, noting “We are prepared to defend Chief Acevedo’s decisions, which were upheld by an independent hearing examiner.”

If you are experiencing employment issues in Austin, such as a hostile work environment, wrongful termination, a wage dispute, or discrimination, the attorneys at The Melton Law Firm may be able to help you with your situation. Call our offices at (512) 330-0017 to see what we can do for you.

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