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Gray Reed Media Kit

Texas Employer Handbook - Published Monthly

For more information on Gray Reed's monthly newsletter Texas Employer Handbook or to sign up to receive it by email, click here.  

Americans with Disabilities Act
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
December 3, 2014
Employee Handbooks
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
October 30, 2014 - Fall is in the air (such that it is in North Texas) and, apparently it is time for everyone to review their employee handbook as I have received a rash of requests to review and revise handbooks lately.  So, it seemed like an appropriate time to take a slight departure from our usual format to give some pointers on employee handbooks. 
Pregnancy Discrimination
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
July 29, 2014 - I doubt it, but you may have heard me on KRLD a couple of weeks ago discussing new rules relating to pregnancy discrimination issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  It appears that the EEOC has decided that pregnant employees deserve rights similar to those protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The problem is that the law doesn’t back up the EEOC’s new stance. 
Travel Time
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
May 30, 2014 - With this month’s topic, we arefor some reason reminded of the lyrics to a Clint Black song: “. . . no time to kill, but time to change the kind of hurry I’ve been in . . .”
Child and Spousal Support
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
April 30, 2014 - One of my friends, and a good client, called recently with an employee standing in her office.  The employee was demanding that the company stop deducting for child support and pointing to an order that appeared to indicate he was no longer liable because his child turned 18.  Knowing the anger I was about to call down on my client and myself, I asked her to call back later. . .when the employee was gone. 
Bonuses
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
March 27, 2014 - Contemplating how to open this month’s edition yesterday evening, I was interrupted by an especially loud commercial for a magical car scratch kit.  At the end of the commercial came the customary, if not required, refrain: “and if you order now we will send you a second bonus kit at no charge!”
Age Discrimination
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
February 27, 2014 - Age discrimination claims are on the rise.  With the down economy from 2008 – 2012 (or even 2013), many 50-somethings found themselves downsized.  Statistically it has been difficult for them to find work ever since.  Many would tell you that businesses just do not want to hire someone in that age group.  It may be to avoid the health considerations that come with older workers.  It may be because the business wants younger workers that are not close to retirement.   Or, it may simply be that the hiring or promoting supervisor identifies better with the younger worker and subconsciously chooses that person. 
I-9 Forms
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
January 31, 2014 - If you’ve hired someone, you are familiar with the USCIS form I-9 (and if you’re not, maybe you should give me a call).  You probably have a good grasp on how to fill it out as well.  But what if you were thrown a curve ball?  What if the employee speaks only Spanish?  Is there a Spanish I-9 form?  What if you are buying another business?  Do you keep their I-9s?  Should you keep copies of the identification cards provided when you complete the I-9 for new employees?
Holiday Parties
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
November 22, 2013 - I know I’m getting old now.  I am wondering where the year has gone.  The last time I looked up it was summer and – whoosh – its November.  The malls are starting to get crowded and the holiday lights are starting to go up.  But more importantly to us, the office holiday parties are in the planning stages.  And somewhere in the back of their mind, business owners may be wondering whether they have liability for serving alcohol.
Employee Terminations
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
October 30, 2013 - Unless you run the happiest company in America, terminations are an unfortunate by-product of having employees.  They are unpleasant not just for the person being let go, but often for the person given the responsibility of letting the employee go.  For this reason there is a tendency not to think about all the permutations and repercussions associated with the termination process which sometimes have significant consequences.  
Background Checks
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
October 1, 2013 - Have you ever “Googled” a prospective employee?  Is that a good idea?  What about requiring a prospect to share their Facebook password so you can check what they have posted?  Are these legal?  Are there pitfalls?
Equal Pay Act
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
August 28, 2013 - This June marked the 50 th anniversary of the Kennedy Administration’s Equal Pay Act, a law designed to help equalize wages between men and women.  According to statistics quoted around the time of the anniversary, a gap of between 20 and 23% still exists in pay between men and women.  So, the law remains important.
Workplace Investigations
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
August 2, 2013 - Ever wonder what it is like to be the detective investigating a crime?  Television makes it look like such a glamorous and exciting job.  You get to question the key witness until they crack under pressure and find that needle in a haystack that breaks the case wide open (conveniently all within one hour of TV time). 
Tips
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
May 28, 2013 -  For the first time, we have focused on a topic that might not apply to everyone.  We received a special request for an edition on tips.   So, here it is! 
At-Will Employment
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
April 29, 2013 - What does “at-will” employment mean?  The general assumption is that “at-will” means an employee can quit for any reason and can be fired for any reason.  But is that really true?  Well . . . maybe not. 
Recordkeeping - Part 2
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
March 27, 2013 - In keeping with our promise, we return this month with the second half of our recordkeeping discussion to cover the remaining requirements and pass on what might be a simpler set of rules to follow. 
Recordkeeping - Part 1
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
February 27, 2013 - Many employment laws have posting requirements and recordkeeping requirements.  While most businesses easily meet their posting requirements by purchasing a new Texas and Federal Employment law poster each year, many seem to have less of an idea about what records to keep.
Smoking Discrimination
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
January 25, 2013 - Whether you are a smoker or a business owner that hates smoking, you should know the rules about smoking at work.  Seriously?  Is smoking another “protected class” like race, sex, national origin, etc, that is protected from discrimination?  Not exactly. 
Unpaid Interns, Volunteers and Trainees
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
December 19, 2012 - About a month ago, my wife made me watch the movie, The Devil Wears Prada and it made me wonder how many other businesses are out there taking advantage of free labor from “interns”.  As it turns out the internet is littered with stories of companies screwing up and getting slapped on the hand by the Department of Labor, so I decided that we needed to put out a piece to shed some light on the subject.
Workers’ Compensation Retaliation
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
November 6, 2012 - Whether you are a subscriber to workers’ compensation or not, an employee’s claim of injury is not just sad for the employee, but it interferes with an employer’s ability to conduct business.  You need the problem resolved and the employee back or their position filled so you can stay on track. 
Discriminatory Use of Criminal Background Checks
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
September 26, 2012 - This spring Pepsi got "popped" for a $3.1 million dollar settlement with the EEOC over its refusal to hire anyone with an arrest or conviction record. Following the settlement, the EEOC released updated guidelines for the use of criminal background checks. I can hear a collective "Seriously?" coming from each of you now. How much government intervention into my business must I endure?
The WARN Act
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
August 27, 2012 - In this continuing tough economy, employers that have avoided layoffs are finding it hard to maintain efficiency. To slim down and become more efficient, many are finally laying off large numbers of employees. Enter the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN).
Hiring Children
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
June 25, 2012 - This month's piece is written for both your business and personal interest. Maybe your close friend is trying to get you to hire her 14 year old to get him out of the house for the summer. Or, perhaps, you would like (or maybe even begging) to get your own teenager out of the house. Either way, you should know that there are a surprisingly large number of rules regarding the employment of kids under the age of 18. Even 16 year olds who you might think can do just about anything have some restrictions.
Hiring
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
May 30, 2012 - In this day and age it is very tempting to "google" your prospective hires to see what you can learn about them on the internet. Some companies have even started demanding to look at a prospective employee's Facebook page to see what kind of person they appear to be. After all, the rest of the world can see this information about your employees and it is a reflection on you as a business owner. But, do these practices expose you to risk of claims by the prospective employees?
Deductions from Pay
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
April 30, 2012 - One of your employees damages a piece of work equipment. Can you deduct the repair from their wages? What if it takes them below minimum wage for the week? Do you need their written consent before doing so? 
Job Descriptions
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
March 29, 2012 - How does HootersTM get away with hiring all young female waitstaff? Well, the company got sued over it, but wised up afterward and created a job description that makes it a "bona fide occupational qualification". It is part of Hooters'TM business model, but don't get any ideas because it probably won't work for you. Whether you approve of HootersTM or not, mentioning it was the only way to make this month's topic - job descriptions - sound interesting. They are important though.  And done right, they can be a time saver. You can use a job description to set the standard for interviews of applicants and the topics to be reviewed in a performance appraisal. Of course, they are also helpful in defending decisions to exempt employees from overtime and reducing the risk of ADA claims. Take a look at this month's piece to find out more. To download this month's edition of the Employer Handbook, click here . 
Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
March 5, 2012 - Fast forward twenty years. Everybody is genetically tested to find out what health issues have been passed to them from their parents. To protect the citizenry from the prying eyes of insurance companies and employers that might want to avoid those that are "genetically inferior", a federal law is passed with sweeping protections for an individual's genetic information.
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
January 31, 2012 - Atten-Hut: This month we focus on the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act ("USERRA"). The name may be a mouthful but most employers seem to have no clue about this law or its requirements. Did you know that you have an obligation to rehire an employee who leaves for military service? Better still, did you know that you are supposed to treat that employee on return as if they had been with the company the entire time they were gone - with appropriate raises in pay and benefits?
Covenants Not to Compete
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
December 12, 2011 - Last month we covered trade secrets and confidentiality. Now, it is time to give you the most commonly used weapon to combat employees taking your secrets across the street to a competitor. Behold, the covenant not to compete !
Trade Secrets and Confidentiality
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
November 3, 2011 - What is the recipe for Coke? Can you tell me Colonel Sanders 11 herbs and spices? I couldn't tell you, but there are probably some employees of those companies who can. If you thought about it long enough, I am sure there are things you don't want your competitors or the world to know either. Your customer lists? Your suppliers? The secret that makes your product special? What protections do you have for your confidential information and trade secrets with respect to current and former employees? What can you do better to prevent former employees from stealing your secrets and sharing them with your competitors when they leave you.
Polygraph Protection
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
September 29, 2011 - Before 1988, businesses could essentially break out a polygraph machine to test employees anytime they liked and rely on the results in all business decisions.  After Congress passed the EPPA, use of polygraph examination almost disappeared, but they can still be used in limited circumstances - including investigation of a theft, but there are alternatives that may work even better.
Privacy in the Workplace
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
August 11, 2011 - Can you rifle through an employee's purse at work? Can you listen to their phone calls or read their e-mail? Some of you are reacting to these questions as individuals who want their privacy protected. Others are reacting as managers or business owners who feel empowered to look at anything you please.
Exempt vs Non-Exempt Employees
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
June 18, 2011 - Last we covered the basics of overtime. This month, you get the other half - exempt vs non-exempt employees. As if there were not enough potential for trouble with just calculating overtime, there are a myriad of different ways people can be exempt from overtime. I cover the basics. So, if you run a fish cannery in Alaska and are eligible for that exemption you'll have to call me to find out how to do it.
Employee Overtime
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
May 19, 2011 - Of all the employment issues out there, overtime is relatively simple, right? Just hand it off to the payroll company and violà, it's done. Of course, the payroll company does not decide whether employees have to clock out for breaks or travel from site to site during the work day as work time. Those issues are for you to decide.
Sexual Harassment: How to Avoid an EEOC Claim and Lawsuit
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
April 29, 2011 - Television and movies have done a lot to form our opinions about what is and is not permissible in the workplace. Everyone has seen the boss\secretary affair, and most people realize it is not appropriate. Setting aside that extreme example though, how many of you truly know where the lines are?
Employee Drug Testing
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
February 25, 2011 - The need to test an employee for drugs doesn't come up very often, but when it does, employers tend not to act. They have the desire, but employers just don't know if it is legal. Erring on the side of caution employers often do nothing until the problem metastasizes into an emergency in the form of an accident or a violent episode.
Does the Family Medical Leave Act Apply to My Business?
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
January 19, 2011 - The Family Medical Leave Act or "FMLA" provides sweeping benefits to employees allowing them to take up to twelve weeks a year in unpaid time off and keep their job. Most business owners are aware of the law, but don't really know their rights:
The Differences Between Independent Contractors and Employees
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
January 4, 2011 - Uncle Sam needs tax dollars in a down economy and he knows independent contractors often forget to report all or a portion of their income. That is why the Department of Labor and IRS have recently teamed up in a joint effort to catch businesses who improperly characterize employees as independent contractors.
How Can an Employer Successfully Handle Social Networking?
Gray Reed's Employer Handbook
December 10, 2010 - "Social Networking" wasn't even a recognized concept ten years ago when I went into private practice. Now it is vying for a place in Webster's and so pervasive that business owners have to consider how their employees' comments on Facebook may impact the bottom line.