Tag Archives: Texas

NEW POSTER — Texas Updates Two Workplace Posters

For the first time since 2013, Texas has published two new workplace posters.  One for public employers (the Notice to Employees (Hazard Communications Act)  poster) and one for employers who participate in the Texas workers’ compensation system (the Employer Notification – Ombudsman Program poster).

For public employers, the Texas Department of State Health Services has updated its Notice to Employees (Hazard Communications Act)  poster, which updates the contact information for the agency.

For employers who participate in the Texas workers’ compensation system, the Texas Office of Injured Employee Counsel as updated its Employer Notification – Ombudsman Program poster in both English and Spanish.  The changes include the following:

  • Posting is revised and reformatted
  • Font size increased
  • Footer information updated
  • The posting is now written into the physical law, which is uncommon. Usually, the law simply states there is a posting required, but does not actually include the posting details.

Each posting is effective on Sept. 1, 2018.

Austin Local Paid Sick Leave Law Enjoined

Earlier this year, Austin became the first city in Texas to pass a local paid sick leave law (Austin Takes Lead as First City in Texas to Require Paid Sick Leave).  This law requires employers to give employees one hour of earned sick time for every 30 hours worked.   The paid sick leave law was to take effect on October 1, 2018.

Shortly after the law was passed, a lawsuit was filed to enjoin (i.e. prevent from going into effect) the new paid sick leave law.  On August 17, 2018, a Texas court granted the injunction.

What does this mean for employers in Austin?

The granting of the injunction means that the Austin paid sick leave law will NOT go into effect on October 1, 2018.  The law could go into effect at a later date.  We will keep an eye on this and update employers on any developments.

What does this mean for employers in San Antonio?

As we reported earlier this week (NEW LAW – San Antonio Passes Local Paid Sick Leave Ordinance), San Antonio also recently passed a local paid sick leave law.  While the injunction on the Austin law does not have any impact on the San Antonio law, the granting of the injunction may inspire similar legal action in San Antonio.

NEW LAW – San Antonio Passes Local Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

On August 16, 2018, the San Antonio (Texas) City Council passed a new local paid sick leave ordinance.  The new law will go into effect in stages –

  • Large employers (more than 5 employees): Effective August 1, 2019
  • Small employers (5 or fewer employees): Effective August 1, 2021

Who is covered by the new San Antonio paid sick leave ordinance?

The new paid sick leave ordinance affects all employers who do business in the city of San Antonio.

What employees are eligible for paid sick leave?

All employees who perform “at least 80 hours of work for pay within the City of San Antonio, Texas in a year” are eligible for paid sick leave benefits.

How much paid sick leave must be provided?

Starting August 1, 2019 for larger employers (August 1, 2021 for small employers), eligible employees of San Antonio employers will start accruing paid sick leave. Continue reading NEW LAW – San Antonio Passes Local Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

Employment Laws to Keep In Mind In The Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, employers in impacted areas in Texas are working to try to get their businesses back up and running as quickly as possible.  When engaging in these efforts, employers need to remember that there are certain legal protections for employees when faced by this type of natural disaster.

  • Wage and Hour Requirements
    • Exempt Employees: If the business closed for less than a full workweek and your exempt employees performed any work during that workweek, then under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers are required to paid their exempt employees for the days that the business is closed (i.e. for the entire workweek).

      If, however, the business remains open and an exempt employee does not come into work, then the exempt employee does not have to be paid for the day.  Instead, it is treated as an absence for personal reasons.  But, if the exempt employee arrives late or leaves early, then he must be paid for the full day of work.

      Finally, if the exempt employee works from home in lieu of coming into work, then he must be paid for the entire workweek.

    • Non-Exempt Employees: Under the FLSA, employers are not required to pay non-exempt employees who do not report to work as the result of a natural disaster.

      The only exceptions to this rule are (1) if employees are paid under a fluctuating workweek or (2) if there is a collective bargaining agreement in place that requires payment under these circumstances.

      Finally, if a non-exempt employee works from home in lieu of coming into work, then he must be paid for all hours worked.

 

  • Emergency Evacuation Discrimination law
    • Under Texas Labor Code Chapter 22, employers are prohibited from discharging or in any other manner discriminating against an employee who leaves the employee’s place of employment to participate in a general public evacuation ordered under an emergency evacuation order.

      Under this law, a disaster is the occurrence or imminent threat of widespread or severe damage, injury, or loss of life or property that results from a natural or man-made cause, including fire, flood, earthquake, wind, storm, wave action, oil spill or other water contamination, volcanic activity, epidemic, air contamination, blight, drought, infestation, explosion, riot, hostile military or paramilitary action, or other public calamity requiring emergency action, or an energy emergency.

      Employers who violate this provision are liable for any loss of wages or employer-provided benefits and must reinstate the employee to the same or equivalent position.

NEW LAW: Leave Rights for Texas Foster Parents Effective September 1, 2017

Earlier this year, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 88 into law.  This bill adds section 21.0595 to the Texas Labor Code, which goes into effect on September 1, 2017.

Under this new law, Texas employers who have a leave policy which allows an employee to take personal leave to care for or otherwise assist a sick biological or adopted child must extend the same leave benefits to foster parents.

It is recommended that Texas employers review their leave policies to make sure they do not specifically exclude foster children or list only biological or adopted children as covered.

NOTE:  This law does not require any Texas employer provide employees with personal leave to care for or otherwise assist a sick biological, adopted, or foster child.  The law just makes it clear that to the extent employers provide that type of leave, it must be extended to foster parents.

NEW LAW – Texting While Driving Now Unlawful in Texas

On June 6, 2017, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 62 into law. This bill enacts a statewide ban on texting while driving effective September 1, 2017.

Under the new law, drivers are prohibited from reading, writing or sending electronic messages unless the vehicle is stopped. The law does not prohibit dialing a number to call someone, setting a GPS device, listening to music programs or even surfing on the Internet.

Texas employers should consider establishing clear policies relating to cell phone use while operating a vehicle for work purposes. These policies should, at a minimum, clearly prohibit texting while operating any kind of motorized vehicles.  Employers should also consider including elements requiring employees to use hands-free devices to speak on the cell phone or consider banning the use of a cell phone while driving entirely.

DOL Partnership regarding worker misclassification — 34 States and Counting

Thirty-five states have agreed to “team up” with the US Department of Labor to investigate worker misclassification. Is your state one of them?

In 2015, Department of Labor launched an initiative to combat the misclassification of employees as independent contractors. As a part of this initiative, the Department of Labor sought to partner with the state agencies and agree to share information and conduct joint investigations regarding independent contractor misclassification. To date, 35 states have entered into a memorandum of understanding regarding worker misclassification issues.

These states are:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

What does this mean for employers in these states?

Employers in the above-listed states should expect collaborative efforts between their state agencies and the Department of Labor during a investigation into potential employee misclassification as the state and the Department of Labor will share information. This could lead to simultaneous, multi-agency investigations into worker classification. It is recommended that companies have qualified legal counsel review any existing independent contractor arrangements. In addition, before entering into an independent contractor relationship, speak with an HR Professional or qualified legal counsel to verify that the worker truly is an independent contractor.

Impact of Texas’ New “Open Carry” Law on the Workplace

On January 1, 2016, Texas’ new “open carry” firearms law goes into effect. This law enables individuals to apply for (and obtain) a license to openly carry firearms on their person. This is a substantial change from Texas’ earlier firearms licensing laws, wherein individuals could only obtain licenses to carry a concealed weapon. Obviously, this new law impacts Texas employers because unless appropriate steps have been taken, starting January 1, 2016, an employee (or a customer) with an open-carry permit can bring his/her handgun onto the employer’s property.

What can a Texas employer do to prevent employees (and customers) from carrying firearms on their premises?

Luckily for Texas employers, the new law does allow employers to ban persons from bringing firearms into their business establishment and/or onto Company property – provided that the employers follow the guidelines set forth in the law.

Employers Who Own The Property Upon Which The Business Is Run:

As a property owner the employer is permitted to ban firearms on their premises by providing notice that firearms are not permitted on the property. Under the law, this notice may be given orally (i.e. by telling every single person who comes onto the property that firearms are prohibited) or in a posted writing. If notice is given in writing, the notice must be posted in a conspicuous manner that is clearly visible to the public and it must contain all of the following language (which must be posted in both English and Spanish):

Pursuant to Section 30.06, Penal Code (trespass by license holder with a concealed handgun), a person licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code (handgun licensing law), may not enter this property with a concealed handgun.

 

De conformidad con el articulo 30.06 del código penal de Texas (sobre el ingreso ilícito de un individuo con liencia de portacion de armas cortas ocultas) una persona con licencia, según lo establecido en law sección H, capitulo 411 del código gubernamental de Texas (sobre la ley de expedición de licencia de armas cortas), tiene prohibido ungresar en esta propiedad con armes cortas ocultas.

 

Pursuant to Section 30.07, Penal Code (trespass by license holder with an openly carried handgun), a person licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code (handgun licensing law), may not enter this property with a handgun that is carried openly.

 

De conformidad con el artículo 30.07 del código penal de Texas (sobre el ingreso ilícito de portación de armas exhibidas públicamente) una persona con licencia, según lo establecido en law sección H, capítulo 411 del código gubernamental de Texas (sobre ley de expedición de licencia de armas cortas), tiene prohibido ingresar en esta propiedad conarmas exhibidas públicamente.

In addition, property-owning employers are able to make workplace rules governing an employee’s ability to bring weapons, including firearms, into the workplace. They can also make rules prohibiting employees from carrying guns during the course and scope of employment (including traveling while on duty and/or while operating a Company vehicle).

Employers Who Do Not Own The Property Upon Which The Business Is Run:

While the employer cannot prohibit non-employees from bringing firearms into their business establishment, the employer is still able to make workplace rules governing an employee’s ability to bring weapons, including firearms, into the workplace. Through these rules, these employers can prohibit employees from carrying firearms in the workplace. Employers can also prohibit employees from carrying guns during the course and scope of employment (including traveling while on duty and/or while operating a Company vehicle).

What About Storing Firearms In Vehicles?

Generally, Texas employers cannot prohibit an employee from storing a firearm in his/her privately-owned vehicle.

How Should Texas Employers Respond To This Law?

Texas employers should review their existing policies and verify that their policies are in compliance with the new law. If employers wish to prohibit employees from carrying guns into the workplace, then employers must be certain to communicate that prohibition to their employees in a manner that is in compliance with the guidelines set forth in the new law.