At Wiley Wheeler, P.C. we aggressively represent employees in lawsuits against employers. We argue cases in both state and federal court. We advocate for clients before agencies like the EEOC, the Department of Labor, and the Texas Workforce Commission. Both Robert J. Wiley and Kalandra N. Wheeler are Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Together with attorney Julie St. John, we devote our practice to fighting for workers’ rights. Employment cases are hard fought, and you need the best employment lawyers for your case. If you are looking for a law firm that is both experienced and aggressive, please contact our office. We will schedule a face-to-face meeting with an employment attorney so you can discuss your case in person.Employment Discrimination
You should be judged on the quality of your work performance, instead of being judged by your supervisor’s prejudices or biases. Employment discrimination occurs if you are treated adversely by your employer because you belong to a protected class. Discrimination comes in many forms and may include employer actions such as a failure to hire, a failure to promote, a demotion, a different pay level, or a termination. There are both state and federal laws that protect employees from discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, genetic information, and age. These classes are not only protected under the Texas Labor Code but are also under federal laws. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, and color. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects employees with disabilities by requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations and prohibiting discriminatory treatment. Additionally, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits discrimination against employees who are 40 or older. For example, if you are 60, and your employer tells you to take a retirement package or face termination because of your age, our Houston employment attorneys may be able to help you bring a claim of age discrimination.Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is prohibited by the Texas Labor Code and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Both women and men can be victims of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can consist of inappropriate remarks, lewd gestures, memes, touches, groping, or even assault or rape. It can be committed by a supervisor, a manager, a coworker, or a customer. Quid pro quo harassment occurs when someone in a position of authority or power in the workplace makes employment or some aspect of employment conditional upon submitting to sexual advances. For example, if a restaurant manager suggests that you sleep with him to get better shift assignments as a waitress, this would be quid pro quo harassment. Hostile work environment harassment occurs when the harassment is so severe or pervasive that it alters the terms and conditions of employment.Hostile Work Environment
Although sexual harassment is a common form of hostile work environment harassment, a hostile work environment can be created by harassment based on other protected characteristics. Hostile work environment harassment could be based on race, national origin, religion, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, or military service. For example, if your coworkers make racist remarks and leave nooses on your desk, this is likely to be considered a hostile work environment based on racial harassment if you are black. Similarly, if you are Middle Eastern, and your supervisor or coworkers call you a terrorist, you may have a claim for hostile work environment harassment based on national origin discrimination. If your coworkers make derogatory remarks about your ability to work because you are in a wheelchair, you may have a hostile work environment claim based on disability discrimination. It is important to take immediate action if you are subjected to bullying, ridicule, or harassment based on your membership in a protected class. You should talk to one of the employment attorneys at our Houston firm as soon as possible. Sometimes a hostile work environment claim results in increased retaliation, and it is important to have an experienced attorney to guide you through this process.
Texas follows the doctrine of at-will employment. This means that employees can be terminated for any reason or no reason. However, an employer cannot terminate an employee for an illegal reason. Federal and state laws provide protection against wrongful termination. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits terminations based on an employee’s disability. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits terminations based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Additionally, you cannot be fired if doing so violates a contract with your employer, whether that is an employment agreement or a collective bargaining agreement. Contracts may specify a particular term of employment or provide that you can only be terminated for cause. The employer is bound to follow the terms of the contract. These are just some of the protections employees have from wrongful termination.Retaliation
Retaliation occurs when an employer takes an adverse action against an employee for engaging in a protected activity. Federal and Texas laws that protect employees contain anti-retaliation provisions. Our Houston employment lawyers can help you bring a claim if your employer retaliated against you for making complaints of discrimination, getting involved in an HR investigation of discrimination, reporting workplace safety violations, filing a wage and hour claim, or engaging in other conduct protected by federal or state laws. For example, it is illegal for an employer covered by the ADA to retaliate against an employee for requesting a reasonable accommodation for a disability. The adverse actions taken by employers against their employees may come in many different forms. They can involve getting passed over for a promotion for which you were in line, they can involve being terminated, or they can involve a failure to pay a bonus that would otherwise have been paid.Unpaid Wages and Overtime
Unpaid wages can be the subject of a wage and hour claim. This can take the form of a failure to pay minimum wage, wage theft, or a failure to pay overtime. Each of these can take different forms. An employment lawyer at our Houston firm can identify the appropriate path for pursuing a claim. For example, wage theft could occur if you worked 50 hours at a construction site but were only paid for 35 hours. A minimum wage violation could occur if a subcontractor’s employees are paid a daily rate rather than an hourly minimum wage. If you work more than 40 hours in a work week, your employer needs to pay time and a half for all of the hours worked over 40. For example, if you are paid $12 per hour and work 60 hours, you should be paid $480 for the first 40 hours and $360 for the 20 extra hours. Overtime claims can arise in a variety of ways, including being misclassified as an independent contractor or being asked to work off the clock.Leave and Benefits
Workers who need time off from work for family or medical reasons may be able to take leave. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible workers of covered employers to take a maximum of 12 weeks of leave for certain reasons each year. The 12 weeks of leave can be taken all at once or in small blocks of time. If your employer is covered, you can take FMLA leave to deal with your own serious medical condition, care for your child or parent or spouse, or go through the birth or adoption of a child. The FMLA also provides protected leave to employee’s when their spouse, son, daughter, or parent are engaged in qualifying military activities. To qualify for FLMA leave, you also need to meet certain criteria, such as working at least 1,250 hours in the prior 12 months and working for an employer with at least 50 employees inside a 75-mile radius.Contact Our Experienced Employment Attorneys in Houston
If you are concerned about protecting your rights in the workplace, you should discuss your situation with an experienced attorney. From our Houston office, we represent employees throughout Southeast Texas, including Harris, Montgomery, Brazoria, Fort Bend, and Galveston counties. Call us at (713) 337-1333 or use our online form to arrange an appointment.