Three Surprising Facts About Texas Employment Law

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Are you an employer or HR professional in Texas?

If so, you are surely aware it’s a big state to say the least. How big?

In an article for Business Insider, Elena Holodny details some facts to illustrate.

  • Texas is home to 8.4% of the US population.
  • It is also the source of about 8.5% of the US GDP.
  • 52 Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in the state.
  • It is the leader in wind power development.

Here is what all these facts should tell you: with all these people working, employment issues are probably pretty big here as well.

Three Things You Might Not Know About Texas Employment Law

In a state this large, there are a lot of employment laws you need to know, but here are three things you might not be aware of.

1. You can ban guns from the workplace

It’s a pretty well established fact that Texas is a gun-friendly state, and that employers cannot ban guns from entering the workplace. The only problem? This fact is in fact not a fact. You can ban guns from the workplace; you just have to be careful about how you do it.

Let’s make this clear from the start: it is true you cannot ban guns from being in a private parking lot. If an employee has a license and is properly storing their gun in their locked vehicle, you can’t stop them (with limited exceptions, such as if they are using the vehicle to perform their job duties, in which case that is a separate story) even though you own the parking lot. That much is true.

However, you don’t have to let them bring that same gun into the workplace.

In other words, if you want to create a policy creating a gun ban in the building, feel free to do so.

2. You better be careful about distracted driving

For the general population, there is no state distracted driving law. This means there is nothing out there stopping a worker from texting while driving. You might want to create an internal policy stopping this, though.

I could give you a bunch of reasons this is true. For example, OSHA doesn’t like it when you encourage employees to text and drive, and it will fine you under its General Duty Clause. Or, you might be swayed by the fact that many cities have distracted driving bans. Also, it’s just a safe idea. And if that’s not enough, here’s a court case to drive the point home.

In 2012, Coca-Cola was ordered to pay $21 million to a woman when she was injured by one of the company’s Texas drivers who was on the phone when the crash occurred. At the time, Coca-Cola had a policy that went beyond Texas law and the driver was using a hands-free device.

Still, the Corpus Christi court found the policy was ambiguous and ruled in favor of the woman.

In other words, there may not be a state law stopping your workers from distracted driving, but there is some common law that shows you might want to create your own, clear guidelines.

3. Austin bans sexual orientation discrimination.

Texas is not known to be the most employee-friendly state. In fact, earlier this year, it became one of four states that went to court and obtained a stay from being required to give same-sex couples benefits under the FMLA.

Nonetheless, some cities provide additional protections. For instance, Austin implemented laws banning discrimination against gender identity and sexual orientation all the way back in 1992. And Houston enacted a similar ordinance in 2014. However, the Texas Supreme Court recently ordered the city to either repeal that equal rights ordinance or place in on the November ballot, so this issue bears continued watching.

And other cities, such as Dallas, Fort Worth, and San Antonio have sexual antidiscrimination ordinances too.

In other words, double check to make sure you are following all applicable laws – even those at the city level.

Being Compliant with All the Texas Employment Laws

What Texas employment law is having the biggest impact on your organization? Let us know by leaving a comment below. And in the meantime, check out all of the other Texas employment laws that you need to be complying with.

 

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