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Houston Employment Law Blog

Report puts employers on notice regarding trans discrimination

Unfortunately, harassment and discrimination in the workplace are nothing new in Texas and across the nation. However, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights wants employers to take a more active role in policing harassment and discrimination, especially when aimed at transgendered individuals. The Commission issued a report on workplace discrimination claiming that 90 percent of all transgendered employees in the United States have faced some form of workplace harassment or discrimination due to their status.

The report goes on to push for stronger regulations and legislation aimed at ending discrimination and harassment of transgendered individuals in the workplace. This call to action is based on the report's assertions that transgendered individuals often find themselves receiving lower wages and fewer promotions when compared to non-transgendered counterparts.

Workplace discrimination is common among Native Americans

Native Americans in Texas will likely find the recent complaints of one Pawnee Nation member familiar. In an interview, the man described the overt discrimination he experienced on the job as a bartender. For starters, his manager disliked his Mohawk haircut, a traditional style for his people. Instead of arguing, the man chose to cut his hair.

He then experienced negative treatment when he needed to take time off to recover from a broken ankle. Upon returning to his job duties, he said that a manager blamed his accident on drinking "firewater." This time the man lodged a complaint with his employer and gave two weeks notice.

Overtime exemptions in white-collar work

The general rule for most Texas workers is that hours worked over the regular 40-hour workweek entitle them to overtime compensation. The law exempts some types of workers from this rule and employers do not need to pay them overtime.

Both employers and employees can misunderstand overtime rules; some employers may even purposely take advantage of employees who do not know their rights. If you suspect you may have overtime owed to you and your employer is not paying you, speaking with an experienced attorney can be the first step in protecting your rights and livelihood.

Native Americans and workplace discrimination

A recent poll shows that nearly one-third of Native Americans have experienced harassment or discrimination in the workplace. Texas is an at-will employment state, which means that without an employment contract, Houston employers can fire employees for any reason, absent discrimination or other unlawful reason for termination.

The survey questioned Native Americans about their experiences in the workplace in terms of being paid equally and finding jobs. Researchers found that 33 percent of the Native Americans polled stated they had personally experienced discrimination regarding equal pay or being considered for a promotion. 31 percent had experienced discrimination when applying for jobs.

Tesla once again the subject of a lawsuit

Texas residents may be aware of recent lawsuits filed against Uber and other companies on the grounds of gender discrimination and harassment. A recent lawsuit filed against Tesla in Alameda County Superior Court claims that racist behavior was common at its factory in Fremont. The class-action lawsuit represents all black employees that worked there. The employee that filed the suit says that racial slurs were used against him by colleagues and managers.

The man claims that Tesla founder Elon Musk told workers that they should learn how to deal with any discrimination that they may face. In an email, Musk said that as long as an offender apologizes, the offended party should grow a thicker skin and accept the apology. This lawsuit was the second one filed in 2017 that claims the company engages in racial discrimination.

Class seeks certification in Walmart discrimination suit

Workers in Texas are protected under federal law from gender discrimination at their jobs. Despite these protections, some companies still treat people differently on the basis of their sex. One company that has faced repeated allegations of gender discrimination is Walmart. In early November, a new group of women filed a lawsuit against the company for gender discrimination.

According to the complaint that was filed in federal court, the plaintiffs allege that they were not paid as much as their male coworkers and were denied opportunities for advancement. The case is the progeny of the class action that was filed against Walmart in 2001. In that case, the U.S. Supreme Court found several years later that the class should not have been certified because it as nationwide.

Tesla the subject of several employee lawsuits

Texas workers may not be surprised to hear about discrimination against employees taking place at large companies. Workers at a Tesla auto manufacturing plant have spoken out about alleged abuses that they have faced. Black employees have claimed that they feel like they are working in the Jim Crow era. Another worker on the assembly line at the California facility said that he was mocked with a derogatory sexual slur about his clothing.

For its part, Tesla said that there was not a single proven case of discrimination in the company's history. However, it did say that it took all complaints seriously. Four lawsuits have been filed against the company in the past few months, and the plaintiffs allege that the company and others that it contracted with did nothing to stop employee mistreatment. Some say that they faced retaliation after they came forward with their claims.

What is wage theft?

If you are a worker who receives minimum wage, every penny of your paycheck counts. Some workers are victims of wage theft. This occurs when your employer somehow pays you less than what the company actually owes you. This type of theft can happen when your employer steals your tips, does not pay you for the overtime you have worked or forces you to work off the clock. 

These are just a few examples of the ways that your employer may not pay you all the wages you are owed. It is important for you to be aware of wage theft so that you can protect yourself and understand your rights under the law. 

Age discrimination and tech careers

People living in Houston understand the importance of making good career decisions. Workers who are seeking a new job or hoping to advance within their current company usually expect that they will be considered for the position based on their skills, qualifications and past job performance. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Age discrimination is a reality for many employees. On a federal level, individuals age 40 and older qualify as a protected class under anti-discrimination laws. Discrimination based on age can take the form of refusing to hire or promote qualified employees who are older or creating a hostile work environment for members of this age group.

How disabilities can hinder companies

According to the Center for Talent Innovation, almost one-third of college educated full-time workers in white collar jobs are disabled. However, employers in Texas may not be able to tell that people are disabled just by looking at them. These are referred to as invisible disabilities, and 62 percent of disabled workers have them. The CTI study found that one-third of respondents faced what they called a negative bias from employers.

Of respondents who have visible disabilities, 44 percent said that they faced some sort of negativity from employers. For instance, their employers may assume that they lack skills or are unable to complete a task in a timely manner. The fear of being thought poorly of at work may make it difficult for employees to ask for accommodations. For instance, those who have migraines may benefit from different lighting or other small changes.

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Warren & Siurek, L.L.P.
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Houston, TX 77098

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