Parker County Today January 2018 - Page 13

W orking T hrough C ommon E mployment L aw I ssues : E mployment L aw 101 By Jim Griffis Have you ever been confused by employment law terminology or concepts. If so, you are not alone. Here are some common issues that arise in employment law. Termination of Employment Employees often claim that they have been wrongfully terminated by their employer. While this may be true in some instances, in many others it is not. The law provides protec- tion from wrongful termination if the employ- er’s reason for termination violates the law. For example, if the termination is based upon the employee’s race, age, gender, disability, or other protected class, then the termination can be wrongful. However, wrongful termination does not occur simply because the employer makes an unfair or unwise decision, especially when the employee is an at-will employee. In Texas, an employee is an at-will employee unless there is a specific agreement to the contrary. Non-Compete Agreements Non-compete agreements are alive and well in Texas. To be enforceable, a non-compete agreement must be ancillary to an otherwise enforceable agreement, and it must be reason- able in time, geographic area, and the scope of the activity being restricted. Non-compete agreements should be custom-tailored for each employee’s unique situation. time requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Some common exemptions are for executives, professionals, highly-compensated employees, and administra- tors. To qualify for these exemptions, the employee must receive a minimum salary and perform certain duties. If either the salary or duties component is not met, then the salaried employee will be entitled to overtime if he or she works more than 40 hours per work week. Independent Contractor vs. Employee Whether a worker is an independent contractor or employee is not always easy to determine. Most government agencies presume that a worker is an employee rather than an independent contractor. This presumption can be rebutted by the employer, but rebutting this presumption can be difficult, espe- cially if the worker is economically dependent on the employer. The United States Department of Labor will often audit employers to determine if they are misclassify- ing workers as independent contractors. The reper- cussions of misclassification can be severe—an employer may owe back wages for minimum wage and overtime for 2 to 3 years, plus fines, penalties, and interest. Jim Griffis is an attorney with Harris, Finley & Bogle, P.C. He concen- trates his 15 year legal practice in labor and employment law. Mr. Griffis represents both employers and employees in various labor and employment matters. Salaried Workers May Be Entitled To Overtime The answer depends upon whether the salaried worker is exempt from the over- There are additional requirements for physi- cian non-compete agreements. One require- ment is that the non-compete must allow the This article is general in nature. If you need assistance in physician to buy-out his or her non-compete at working your way through employment issues, you should contact an experienced labor and employment attorney. a reasonable price. 11