Pay & Benefits
Pay & Benefits
Texas employment lawyer Adam Kielich understands that your job is your livelihood. It’s the way you support yourself and your family. When your employer messes with your job it’s really messing with your life and your family. Losing your job can affect caring for your health, paying your mortgage and putting food on the table. A wrongful termination or unlawful demotion can create a long term financial crisis for you and your family.
Even without a wrongful termination your employer can still have a disastrous effect on your life. Wrongfully denying FMLA or a reasonable accommodation to a disability can negatively affect your health. Harassment, unpaid overtime, demotions, denying promotions and other adverse employment actions without wrongful termination can still have a serious impact on your life and your finances.
Your employer might want to ignore your rights. That is where your Fort Worth and Dallas employment lawyer can help you make a stand.
When your employer messes with your job it’s really messing with your life and your family.
Under Texas employment law and federal employment law it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, disability, genetic information, age (over forty) or sex. Some cities in Texas like Fort Worth and Dallas prohibit discrimination on sexual orientation and transgenderism.
It violates employment law to use a protected status to make employment decisions such as hiring or termination. It is also unlawful to create a hostile work environment by harassing an employee for any of these reasons. If you suffer employment discrimination you may recover lost wages, punitive damages, attorney’s fees and other monetary remedies.
Employment discrimination lawsuits are complex and require you to follow a specific administrative process before you can file suit. Most employment discrimination claims require an employee to first file a claim with the EEOC or TWC. Failing to properly complete this process can prevent you from filing a lawsuit for discrimination in Dallas or Fort Worth. Below are prohibited forms of employment discrimination in Dallas and Fort Worth:
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is an employment law that permits eligible employees of covered employers to take protected leave up to twelve weeks of leave in a twelve month period for a serious medical condition of the employee or the employee’s immediate family member, childbirth and adopting a child. Employers often violate employee’s FMLA rights by unlawfully refusing the employee protected leave, by interfering with the employee’s approved FMLA leave or by retaliating against the employee for requesting FMLA leave. When an employer violates the employee’s FMLA rights the employee can recover lost wages, liquidated damages (similar to punitive damages), attorney’s fees and other financial compensation. The employee may also seek reinstatement to his or her job.
Many employers in Fort Worth and Dallas are antagonistic to FMLA rights. They often believe employees abuse FMLA merely because they exercise their FMLA rights, especially taking intermittent FMLA leave. You can find many resources from Dallas and Fort Worth employment law firms discussing FMLA abuse. Just because employers feel this way does not mean it is true. It does, however, mean there is a high risk that your employer will violate your FMLA leave rights.
Under federal and Texas law employees must receive minimum wage plus overtime pay unless exempt from those provisions. An employer who fails to pay minimum wage and overtime pay to non-exempt workers steals from its employees. Those employees are entitled to recover lost wages, liquidated damages, attorney’s fees and other financial compensation. These include claims for tipped employees who may be underpaid due to improper tip pool deductions. Employees misclassified as independent contractors or exempt employees are also entitled to recover lost wages, liquidated damages, attorney’s fees and more. Employees may have other compensation-related claims unrelated to minimum wage and overtime protections that can be prosecuted, such as claims for unpaid bonuses or commissions that the employee has earned but the employer refuses to pay.
Most employee benefit plans are covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) that protects employee benefits earned under covered plans from employer mismanagement. These include 401k and 403b plans, most defined benefit pension plans, ESOPs, health insurance plans, disability plans, employer provided life insurance and so forth. ERISA requires employers to exercise a high degree of care in managing benefits and prohibits the employer from using the benefit plan to its own benefit. When employers violate ERISA provisions by improperly administering the plan or improperly denying benefits the employee is entitled to remedies.
A growing problem with ERISA-covered benefit plans is employers seeking pension overpayment recoveries in which the employer lazily miscalculated a defined benefit pension payment and is now pursuing the retiree to recover payment. These overpayment recovery efforts can put the retiree in financial danger after making employment and retirement plans based upon payment expectations provided by the employer. Defenses are available to these recovery efforts.
In addition to ERISA benefit plans there are a number of non-ERISA benefit plans offered by employers such as stock plans and non-qualified executive compensation plans. Employers are still subject to certain regulations and plan rules with these types of plans and failure to properly administer these plans or make proper payment of benefits may also give the employee or retiree claims against the employer.
Retirement and other benefit plan issues are challenging claims. Few employment law firms handle these claims because they do not understand ERISA and other benefit plan laws. Like many other employment law issues there are often specific procedures that must be satisfied before a lawsuit may proceed against a benefit plan.
Employers are prohibited from retaliating against an employee who takes action to oppose workplace discrimination or assert an employment right like FMLA or a wage claim for overtime pay. Retaliation claims are on the rise in Dallas, Fort Worth and across Texas. Employers often double down on unlawful activity by retaliating against an employee. For example, an employee who suffers employment discrimination and files a complaint with HR might suffer punishment for filing the complaint. The employee has a claim for both employment discrimination and separately retaliation. Even if the employee cannot prove the discrimination claim, he or she may still recover for the retaliation claim.
Non-compete agreements and severance agreements affect your future rights and ability to obtain employment. Not all non-compete agreements are valid under Texas law. Reliance on a defective non-compete agreement can severely harm your job prospects. Similarly, severance agreements often include waivers of claims against the employer and often these waivers are made in exchange for sums of money well below the value of a legitimate employment claim. Before signing either a non-compete agreement or a severance agreement you should speak with an employment lawyer to determine your rights under the agreement and whether it is in your interests to enter into the agreement.
The National Labor Relations Act is an employment law that gives you the right to work with your coworkers to improve workplace conditions, pay and other employment issues. You can work together with your coworkers through an organized union or through an informal organization. If you are a union worker then your collective bargaining agreement will provide protections beyond the at-will relationship. That can be used in the grievance process with the union or through other legal action, including arbitration and mediation.
Employers often oppose labor rights because employees working together present a stronger front than individual employees. Fort Worth and Dallas workers must understand their rights to work together and recognize when their employers violate those rights.
In Texas a termination creates a claim for wrongful termination under limited circumstances. This generally includes termination in violation of a statute, such as anti-discrimination laws or for complaining of unlawful conduct. There are also wrongful discharge claims available when an employee is fired for whistleblowing on certain unethical or illegal acts. A terminated employee may also have a claim for wrongful discharge in a Sabine Pilot claim. This is a claim when the employee suffers termination for refusing to perform an illegal act at the employer’s direction. A wrongful discharge claim gives employees similar opportunities for financial recovery similar to other employment claims.
Pay & Benefits