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How to Comply with Texas Labor and Employment Laws

— August 17, 2023

Retaining an employment attorney is a wise investment for Texas employers because employment laws are complex and ever-evolving.

Texas employers are subject to a range of laws and regulations that govern various aspects of employment. These include contract law, wage and hour laws, leave and benefits laws, and non-discrimination laws. Complying with these laws is crucial for several reasons.

First, employment laws ensure employers maintain a fair and ethical work environment. For example, by following anti-discrimination laws, employers can prevent discrimination based on race, gender, religion, or disability, promoting equal opportunities for all employees.

Second, employers can avoid legal penalties and potential lawsuits by knowing and complying with employment laws. For instance, following wage and hour laws helps prevent claims of unpaid wages or overtime violations.

Finally, complying with employment laws demonstrates an organization’s commitment to good governance, corporate responsibility, and ethical practices. It promotes trust and credibility among employees, customers, and stakeholders. Frankly, with internet commentary and reviews, your company’s reputation will suffer if it doesn’t follow the rules.

Texas employers would be wise to retain an employment and business firm, such as Davis Business Law, to help it regularly review and update their policies, educate their staff, and seek legal guidance to ensure full compliance with applicable laws.

Navigating Texas Employment Contracts

Texas employment contracts are generally enforceable, including non-compete provisions, but are subject to certain limitations and requirements. Texas follows a policy of favoring the freedom of employees to seek employment and the right to compete, while also recognizing an employer’s legitimate interest in protecting its business.

To be enforceable, a non-compete agreement in Texas must meet several criteria. First, the agreement must be supported by valid consideration, meaning the employee must receive something of value in exchange for agreeing to the non-compete restriction, such as specialized training, access to trade secrets, or confidential information.

Second, the non-compete provision must be reasonable in scope. Texas law requires that the restriction be no greater than necessary to protect the employer’s legitimate business interests, considering factors such as time, geographic area, and the nature of the employee’s job responsibilities. Courts in Texas generally disfavor overly broad or unreasonable restrictions.

It’s important to note that Texas has specific statutory requirements for non-compete agreements involving physicians, which impose additional limitations and conditions.

While employment contracts are generally enforceable, each case is unique, and the courts evaluate them individually. Employers should seek legal counsel to ensure that their employment contracts, including non-compete provisions, comply with Texas law and are tailored to their specific circumstances.

Wage and Hour Regulations in Texas

In Texas, wage and hour laws primarily stem from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), a federal law that sets standards for minimum wage, overtime pay, and child labor. Under the FLSA, the current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. However, Texas does not have a state minimum wage and follows the federal minimum wage requirement.

The FLSA also mandates that non-exempt employees (those who do not meet specific exemptions) must receive overtime pay of one and a half times their regular hourly wage for all hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek. Simply paying someone a salary does not make them exempt from overtime. Many employers wrongly classify employees as exempt from overtime, often resulting in lawsuits. 

Additionally, Texas employers must adhere to laws regarding child labor, including restrictions on the types of work minors can perform and limitations on their work hours.

Wage and hour laws can be complex. Employers should seek professional legal advice to ensure compliance with all applicable Texas wage and hour laws.

Employee Benefits and Leave Policies

Texas does not have specific state laws mandating paid or unpaid sick leave for private sector employees. However, certain employers may be subject to federal laws such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which provides eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for qualifying reasons.

Regarding benefits, Texas does not require private employers to provide employees with healthcare coverage or retirement plans. However, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), employers with 50 or more full time employees must provide employees with affordable health insurance options. Further, if an employer does offer these benefits, they must comply with federal laws such as ACA and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

Employers must stay informed about the current employment laws and regulations applicable to their specific industry and consult legal resources or seek professional advice to ensure compliance with all relevant leave and benefits laws in Texas.

Texas Anti-Discrimination and Retaliation Laws

Texas employers are subject to various laws prohibiting workplace discrimination and retaliation. While federal laws provide the primary framework, Texas has additional protections at the state level. Here are the key laws applicable to Texas employers:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – This federal law prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. It applies to employers with 15 or more employees.
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) – This federal law prohibits age discrimination against employees who are 40 years of age or older. It applies to employers with 20 or more employees.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – The ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in employment. It applies to employers with 15 or more employees.
  • Texas Whistleblower Act – This state law protects employees from retaliation for reporting illegal activities, violations of laws, or health and safety concerns in the workplace.
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – This federal law grants eligible employees the right to take unpaid leave for qualifying medical or family reasons. It applies to employers with 50 or more employees.

Complying with these discrimination and retaliation laws is crucial for Texas employers to foster a fair and inclusive work environment, avoid legal liabilities, and protect their reputation.

Lawyer preparing a file; image by advogadoaguilar, via
Lawyer preparing a file; image by advogadoaguilar, via

Davis Business Law’s seasoned employment attorneys can help your company develop comprehensive policies and practices that promote equal opportunities, provide anti-discrimination training to employees and management, and establish procedures for addressing complaints and investigating discrimination and retaliation claims.

Contact an Experienced Business Attorney

Retaining an employment attorney is a wise investment for Texas employers because employment laws are complex and ever-evolving. Employment attorneys, such as our team at Davis Business Law, possess specialized knowledge in navigating the intricacies of employment regulations, mitigating legal risks, and ensuring compliance with applicable laws.

Davis Business Law can help Texas employers avoid legal pitfalls, minimize the risk of costly lawsuits, and protect their business reputation. Our attorneys stay updated on the latest legal developments, helping clients comply with the evolving employment landscape.

The guidance of an employment attorney provides peace of mind, allowing employers to focus on their core business operations while having the confidence that their employment practices are legally sound and aligned with the best interests of both the company and its employees. 

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