Handbooks and Policies

Medical care providers have been experiencing an uptick in Fair Labor Standards Act lawsuits based on automatically deducted meal periods. Recently, a nurse filed a collective action lawsuit against St. Luke’s Health System Corporation and various affiliates, claiming that they failed to pay nurses for work performed during meal breaks. Specifically, the nurse alleges that St. Luke’s automatically deducts 30 minutes from each shift for meal periods, assuming that its nurses are able to find a 30-minute block of time to eat. The nurse further claims that, in reality, nurses remain on duty when attempting to eat, and that their meal periods are frequently interrupted. Given the potential for large liability and the likelihood of copycat lawsuits, employers—particularly medical care providers—should examine their meal period policies to ensure the policies are compliant with the Fair Labor Standards Act. Continue Reading Food for Thought—Does Your Automatic Meal Period Policy Violate the Law?

As Hurricane Harvey strengthens and threatens Texas and the Gulf Coast, it’s a good time for Texas employers to consider potential pay-related issues that can arise from inclement weather. Be it rising floodwaters or hurricanes in the Gulf (and the endless news coverage of the same), here are 5 tips to help your business when employees are absent due to inclement weather. Continue Reading Employee Pay During Inclement Weather: Five Tips to Stay Afloat

The days of the “one size fits all” job application may soon be coming to an end. As federal, state, and local governments increasingly heighten employer hiring process requirements, national employers must be diligent to avoid getting tripped up by the varying rules across different locations. This post will discuss three hiring requirements that are increasingly leaving companies exposed to risk.

Continue Reading Does Your Job Application Need a Check-Up? Three Costly Compliance Blunders to Avoid

On January 13, 2017, the US Supreme Court agreed to determine whether arbitration agreements that include class action waivers are legally enforceable under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). In doing so, the Court granted the petitions for certiorari, and consolidated, three cases from the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth, Seventh and Ninth Circuits.  While the Fifth Circuit has ruled that class action waivers are enforceable, the Seventh and Ninth Circuits have disagreed and held that class action waivers violate the NLRA.  The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has also continued to hold that class action waivers violate the NLRA and interfere with employees’ rights to engage in concerted activity.  A ruling by the Supreme Court on the issue should resolve the Circuit Court split, provide nationwide guidance, and end the patchwork approach that has been adopted by US employers who utilize arbitration and class waivers.  The Supreme Court’s decision is expected before the end of June 2017.

To read more, click here.

Since many Texas companies send employees on international assignment, they should be mindful that the U.S. federal income tax rules don’t apply to everyone in the same way.  A case in point is a recent Tax Court Memorandum decision, Qunell v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue.  In that case, the Tax Court held that even though the taxpayer was employed in Afghanistan for 16 months, he was not entitled to exclude his income earned in Afghanistan for 2011 from U.S. tax because he was deemed to have a U.S. abode.  For those who have only a high-level understanding of the foreign earned income exclusion under Section 911 of the Internal Revenue Code (see previous post here), this result may not be obvious.  But the statute is clear that even if a taxpayer otherwise qualifies to exclude foreign earned income under Section 911, that exclusion is not available if the taxpayer has an abode within the United States.

So, what is an “abode”? Continue Reading Expatriate Taxation, Part II: Not All U.S. Expats Can Exclude Their Foreign Earned Income

November 8 is shaping up to have one of the largest voter turnouts in history.  As such, Texas employers should ensure they comply with election voting laws as they relate to employees.  Chapter 276 of the Texas Election Code sets certain requirements for employers.  Below are some do’s and don’ts for employers with voting employees: Continue Reading Voting Laws – Do’s and Don’ts for Texas Employers

Title VII and the Equal Pay Act expressly ban the unequal treatment and compensation of female employees. Yet pay inequity can creep in to even the most well-intentioned companies.  As a consequence, standards for evaluating pay practices are rapidly evolving in both the public and private sectors, and many companies are pledging to improve wage equality.  What’s more, with the EEOC now targeting equal pay discrimination, we are primed to see a wave of class action lawsuits that could cost companies millions in back pay and damages.  Is your company keeping up? Continue Reading Pay Equity: Everything Employers Need to Know

Texas companies that send their employees on international assignment shouldn’t let their employees figure out their US federal income taxes by themselves. A case in point is a recent Tax Court Memorandum decision, Gerencser v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, where the taxpayer not only lost to the IRS but was assessed with penalties as well. A well-written global mobility policy that requires expats to use the company’s designated tax return preparer is best practice, but surprisingly not all companies take this approach. Because a failure by the expat to properly compute taxes could, in fact, subject the employer to liability, it is important that companies review their global mobility policies. Continue Reading Expatriate Taxation – Don’t Be a Cowboy!

The Fifth Circuit held Monday, August 8, 2016, that employers who prohibit workers from storing guns in locked vehicles may be subject to wrongful discharge claims.  The decision was based on the Mississippi Supreme Court’s interpretation of a Mississippi statute, but Texas employers should take note—Texas has the same statute, potentially resulting in the same holding. Continue Reading Shots Fired By 5th Circuit – Prohibiting Guns in Parking Lots Could Lead to Wrongful Discharge Claims

Catch ’em all!  Pokémon Go is a mobile game that uses “augmented” reality to create a virtual scavenger hunt.  In the quest to catch ’em all, over 15 million people have downloaded the Pokémon Go game since its recent release.  Employers have grappled with employees’ personal use of electronic devices during work hours since gaming fads such as Candy Crush and Draw Something were released.  However, beyond creating a simple distraction in the workplace, the explosion of Pokémon Go subjects employers to potentially costly risks, including worker safety issues, lost productivity, data breach possibilities, and misuse of company resources.

Our Toronto office colleague, Mark Mendl, recently authored an article that examines the various employment issues and considerations implicated with Pokémon Go.  The article may be accessed here.