Employment Law

FMLA Employer Rules in Texas

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 is a federal law that requires covered employers to provide eligible employees with unpaid leave for medical and family reasons without fear of losing their position or job. In Texas, the law is reiterated under the Texas Government Code in Section 661.912 (Family and Medical Leave Act) although it is essentially the same as that described by the federal government. There are no special state laws regarding family and medical leave aside from the FMLA in Texas. Even then, according to the website of Houston-based Habush Habush & Rottier S.C., covered employers still attempt to deny eligible employees with their rights under the FMLA.

Private and public employers in Texas with a minimum of 50 employees within a 75 mile radius in the previous 20 weeks or so are covered by the FMLA. To comply with the regulations, all employers covered by the law should:

  • Post a notice of FMLA employer responsibilities and employee rights
  • Include adequate information regarding the FMLA in the employee handbook or as part of the orientation for new hires
  • Determine if the leave being requested by an employee may qualify as FMLA leave and to inform the employee if it is, and the deductions from FMLA entitlement that will result

Employers are barred from refusing an eligible employee’s request to avail of FMLA or to discourage employees from applying for FMLA benefits. An employer may also be subject to sanctions for discriminating or retaliating against an employee who has applied for FMLA, complained of unlawful behavior of an employer regarding the FMLA or for filing or testifying against an employer for FMLA-related charges.

FMLA enforcement is undertaken by the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor, and will receive complaints and allegations of FMLA violations against employers in Texas. Furthermore, an employee may be eligible to bring a civil case against a noncompliant employer. Check with an experienced FMLA attorney to know more about your options.

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Everything You Need to Know about Wrongful Termination

The last thing that anyone wants is to be laid off, especially when you believe that you didn’t deserve to be fired. One common question people have for employment lawyers is whether they were wrongfully terminated and have a legitimate case against their employers. Employment laws vary from state to state; however, a number of states, including Louisiana and Texas, follow an at-will employment policy. In general, this means that an employer can let certain employees go for a lawful reason at any time without notice. It also means an employee can quit his or her job at any time. It is important to note, though, that there are a number of exceptions and limitations to these laws. If an employer does not respect these limitations when letting an employee go, it could constitute wrongful termination.

What Counts as Wrongful Termination?

Despite at-will employment laws, an employer is not allowed to terminate an employee based on discriminatory or retaliatory reasons. For instance, an employee cannot be fired for acting as a whistleblower. These actions can count as wrongful termination.

If an employee has been wrongfully terminated, he or she may be able to seek justice by taking legal action and filing a wrongful termination suit against his or her employer. Wrongful termination cases have significantly increased in frequency over the last two decades. In fact, statistics report that wrongful termination lawsuits have risen 260% in the last 20 years.

What are the Different Forms of Wrongful Termination?

Wrongful termination can cover a number of actions. It is a common misconception that wrongful termination can only occur if the victim’s employer fired him or her. However, wrongful termination can also include cases where the employer simply bullies or forces an employee to quit by making his or her work environment intolerable. Two common ways an employer can commit wrongful termination are:

Constructive Discharge – An employer doesn’t necessarily fire an employee outright to commit wrongful termination. If an employer creates a dangerous, harmful, or intolerant work environment that forces an employee to quit due to discrimination or sexual harassment, the employee could hold the employer responsible for wrongful termination. However, constructive discharge does not cover every situation and cannot be used simply because there are things at the office that bother an individual.

Retaliatory Termination – It is illegal for an employer to terminate an employee because the employee filed a claim against the employer claiming he or she was the victims of discrimination or harassment in the workplace. Also known as being a “whistleblower,” you cannot be fired for reporting an illegal act or for being unwilling to commit an illegal act. If you choose to pursue a wrongful termination suit for retaliatory termination, you must establish that the filing of your complaint was directly linked to your firing.

What is Illegal Discrimination?

As an employee, it is important to know that you cannot lose your job due to certain traits that are protected under federal law. Any employer who hires or fires an employee based on origin, age, race, gender, religion, disability, or pregnancy is violating the law. If you believe you have lost your job for any of these reasons, you may be able to take action against your employer through a wrongful termination case with the help of employment attorneys. An attorney will be able to help you through your case, making sure that you don’t get taken advantage of by your employer.

An employee who has been wrongfully terminated based on discriminatory reasons has the legal right to sue his or her employer for loss of wages, “fringe” benefits, and in some cases, even punitive damages.

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