Responding to Accommodation Requests

Employers continue to struggle with how best to respond to employees with medical issues who request accommodations. With the EEOC’s renewed focus on disability issues and pregnancy-related limitations, employers must take care to understand, handle, and document accommodation requests carefully. As detailed in Hollie Reiminger and Larry Stuart’s recent article in the April 6, 2015 issue of Texas Lawyer, employers should assume that although every accommodation request will be unique, having a standard way of responding to such requests will minimize legal risks.

Click here for a copy of the article.

Why is Breaking Up So Hard to Do?

Nobody likes a bad breakup. Getting closure with a terminated employee is getting harder thanks to recent actions by the EEOC and the NLRB challenging what many regarded as standard severance agreement language. On April 1, 2015, the SEC announced its first enforcement action against a company for using improperly restrictive language in confidentiality agreements. Employers should review their agreements to ensure they don’t run afoul of the latest agency enforcement positions, a topic addressed in a December 1, 2014 Texas Lawyer article authored by Cheri Thomas and Larry Stuart.

Click here for a copy of the article.

Out Sick, or Sick of Work?

What’s a manager to do with employees who can’t do their jobs because of medical issues? Employers continue to struggle with how best to handle workers who seem to be more focused on their work limitations than on getting the job done. Managers with good intentions may expose themselves to personal liability and put their company at risk. As detailed in Ehsan Tabesh and Larry Stuart’s article entitled “Out Sick, or Sick of Work” in the March/April 2014 issue of Well Servicing magazine, managers should take time to understand and handle employee medical issues very carefully.

Click here for a copy of the article.

Is That Worker Really an Independent Contractor?

Classifying workers as contractors presents an array of legal risks.  And with the DOL, IRS and state workforce agencies on the lookout for companies that have misclassified workers as independent contractors, companies should proceed with caution.  Hollie Reiminger and Larry Stuart’s article in the January 2014 issue of Well Servicing details the legal standards and risks associated with use of independent contractors.  Click here for a copy of the article.

Litigation of OSHA Death Cases and Retaliation Claims

As energy companies ramp up to meet production and staffing needs, the use of workers who are new to the industry and related safety concerns are on the rise, as is the frequency of workplace injuries and deaths.  Cases that routinely would have been efficiently resolved in the past are now referred by OSHA to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution, raising the specter of more significant enforcement actions than in the past.  Employers must also take care not to retaliate against employees who raise safety concerns.  Larry Stuart gave a presentation about these issues at a conference sponsored by EUCI in January 2014.  Click here for a copy of the presentation.

Is Your Non-Compete Agreement Enforceable?

Use of non-compete and non-solicitation agreements is on the rise.  Whether an agreement will be found enforceable will depend on state law, the specific language of the agreement, and the background facts.  Larry Stuart and Glen Rigby published an article entitled “Locking Up Employees with Non-Compete Agreements”in the November/December 2013 issue of Well Servicing magazine. Click here for a copy of the article.

Overtime Litigation On the Rise

Larry Stuart gave a presentation entitled “What’s New Pussycat?  The Perfect Storm of Overtime Litigation” at the 2013 Texas Total Rewards Conference, where he presented the results of Stuart PC’s study of overtime cases filed in the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, during 2013. The presentation addressed national and local trends and provided guidance regarding steps companies should consider to reduce the risk of claims and unpaid wage liability.  Click here for a copy of the presentation.

Handling Employees With Medical Issues

Employers know they must reasonably accommodate qualified employees who have disabilities, but what’s an employer to do when an employee’s medical condition or treatment protocol presents serious safety concerns?  The company must tread lightly and be prepared to gather accurate information and document its good faith efforts to work with the employee to identify possible solutions.  Stuart PC’s August 2013 newsletter details the EEOC ‘s interpretation of applicable standards and outlines steps employers should take to reduce the risk of claims.  Click here for a copy.

Effectively Managing Employee Performance

Most managers hate to manage and document employee performance problems, and many managers overstate the quality of employee performance when they perform annually reviews.  In doing so, managers may unknowingly set up and make it harder to defend discrimination and retaliation claims.  In their article “Documenting Employee Performance,” Cheri Thomas and Larry Stuart provide guidance for managers and HR professionals about how to manage employee performance and reduce the risk of claims.  Click here for a copy of the article.

Auditing Compensation Practices (June 2013)

With overtime collective actions and agency investigations of pay practices on the rise, employers should seriously consider auditing their compensation practices to ensure compliance with applicable legal standards and minimize risk.  Larry Stuart spoke at the 2013 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference in Chicago, Illinois, about compensation audit best practices and in September 2013 for a webinar sponsored by Thompson Media.  Click here for a copy of the SHRM conference presentation.

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