Houston Employment Law Blog

Older workers commonly face age discrimination

Older workers in Houston and across the U.S. are facing age discrimination while looking for employment, according to a report by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Further, only 3 percent of those who experience such discrimination have made a formal complaint to a state or federal agency.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act was passed in 1967. It forbids employers from discriminating against workers 40 and older based on their age. However, employment experts say that age discrimination is more accepted in the workplace than other forms of discrimination. In fact, the practice is so prevalent that it's an "open secret", according to a senior adviser at the EEOC.

Appealing a denied disability benefits claim

If you have a non-worked related injury and can no longer work, you'll need long-term disability benefits. It's not an easy process and it can be more stressful when your employer or insurance company denies your claim. You may feel at a loss, but remember that you have protections under the law.

Federal law provides certain protections to employees who receive pensions, retirement plans or health coverage from private employers. But what happens when your employer tries to skirt paying your disability insurance? In this post, we will discuss how you're protected and how you can appeal the denied claim.

Pay disparity hits hard in tennis and medicine

It’s surprising that after all the fighting that women have done to first, get into the workplace, and now, to get paid equally that there would still be stories of women who are paid less than their male counterparts. Not just less, but, often, substantially less.

Earlier this summer Sports Illustrated told the story of tennis great, Martina Navratilova and where she is now. While she may have hung up her racquet over a decade ago, she is still an important influence in the tennis community.

Workplace discrimination related to pregnancy remains a problem

Creating lactation rooms, designating special parking spaces and offering flexible parental leave policies are among the steps some companies in Texas have taken to make working conditions easier for pregnant employees. Nevertheless, discrimination against women who are expecting or those who've recently returned to work following childbirth remains a widespread problem in the workplace. Several years of studies suggest that once this type of bias is triggered, it can be very significant and impactful.

In some situations involving pregnancy-related workplace discrimination, mothers-to-be are overlooked for promotions or denied pay raises. Some employers or supervisors refuse to allow pregnant employees in physically demanding jobs to take additional breaks or bring an extra snack or bottled water with them to the job site. Managers may also refuse to modify job duties, and complaining about such circumstances sometimes results in termination.

Workplace discrimination can take the form of bullying

Workers in the Houston area who are subject to bullying and harassment on the job can often feel confused and powerless in their workplaces. They may be unsure about what to do about the situation as any potential action could have unwanted consequences. Many workers remain silent about mistreatment by their managers or colleagues, hoping that the harassment will come to an end and that the perpetrators will lose interest. Others may file a complaint of some kind through an HR or grievance system, but they could be concerned about the potential for retaliation after taking action.

While any form of bullying in the workplace is contrary to a good, positive work environment, many types of harassment can go beyond the unpleasant and the unethical to the illegal. In particular, discrimination and harassment that is based on a number of protected categories violates federal and state laws. These include discrimination on the basis of sex, race, religion, disability, national origin, genetic information or age over 40. When people are the victims of discrimination or harassment based on these essential characteristics, it can be important to take action.

Women still make less than men in education occupations

If you’re a woman, you’re likely familiar with the wage gap that women face in the workplace. It’s well-known that women generally make less than men across all occupations. For those in education occupations, it’s no different.

How big is the disparity?

Equal Pay Day highlights continuing gender pay gap

The Equal Pay Act became law in Texas and across the country on June 10, 1963. It mandates that women receive the same pay as men for the same work, but the pay gap continues and varies based on race as well. On average, women earn 80 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn according to data published by equalpaytoday.org. For the year 2018, Equal Pay Day was April 10. That's the day a woman had to work through to earn the money a man earned in 2017.

Broken down further, Asian women earned 87 cents to a dollar versus men while white women earned 79 cents; black women earned 63 cents per dollar of their male coworkers' pay, and Native American women and Latina women earned only 57 cents and 54 cents, respectively. A law professor at Howard University suggested moving Equal Pay Day to November 1 through which Latina women, for whom the gender pay gap is greatest, have to work to symbolically earn as much as a man earned in the previous year.

Veterans seek protection from hiring discrimination

Obtaining employment in Texas is often difficult for veterans who have been discharged from the military for relatively minor offenses. A human rights commission in Connecticut warned employers in the state that they may be breaking anti-discrimination laws by actively selecting against this group of veterans. Members of the commission hope to spread the word about this type of discrimination to bigger employers throughout the nation.

Veterans groups believe that less-than-honorably discharged service members are part of a protected class because they are disproportionately black, Latino, gay and disabled. Furthermore, these veterans have been discharged administratively and never had the opportunity to go to court. Their offenses, which are often described as "bad paper" by veterans, can include everything from minor fighting and drug use to tardiness and issues related to PTSD.

Filtering tools could discriminate against older workers

If companies in Texas and throughout the country use social media to target younger job seekers, that could be a form of age discrimination. According to a claim by the Communications Workers of America (CWA), older workers missed out on job opportunities because they were not shown ads for those positions. Companies such as Amazon and T-Mobile were said to make use of Facebook's filtering tools to exclude older job seekers.

In an amended filing, Facebook is said to filter advertisements by age to fill its own positions. However, Facebook is not a defendant in the case. It is believed that hundreds of companies not named in the complaint make use of filtering tools when advertising available job opportunities. A complaint was filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in January, but the organization did not confirm that this was accurate.

Disability claims and employer obligations under ERISA

Disability insurance can be a great benefit. When you’ve become disabled and your ability to work changes, it can help make ends meet so that you’re still able to feed your family.

Ideally, your employer and your employer-provided insurance plan should work with your disability insurance so that your medical needs are covered as well.

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

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