Texas News & Analysis

  • Sometimes employers' good deeds get rewarded

    There is a common belief among defense lawyers who practice employment law and HR professionals who administer it that "no good deed goes unpunished." While that belief is common, it often is also mistaken, as the following case demonstrates.

  • Some ideas for performance evaluations as the pandemic continues

    The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt many facets of employment, including how managers and employees communicate about performance. Like last year, employers are struggling to decide how to assess employee performance when so much of the workforce is nowhere near back to normal. The "annual review" process was under attack in many circles before the pandemic struck, but its shortcomings are now even more evident. What should employers do? Here are a few ideas.

  • Staffing up during the pandemic: a few tips

    Many employers were optimistic earlier in the year when the COVID-19 vaccination program ramped up in a big way and case counts seemed to be on the decline. Restrictions were eased, and light seemed to appear at the end of the tunnel.

  • Cutting-Edge HR

    Survey highlights employer worries about exodus of talent. A survey from outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas Inc. shows 68% of companies are worried about an exodus of workers. Why? The researchers say 75% of companies reported workers wanting more flexibility and 59% cited worker burnout. Women are pushing back more than any other group, according to Challengers report. Over 81% of companies reported facing pushback to the return to the office, primarily coming from mothers and women. The survey reported 29% of employers cited childcare as an issue fueling workers desire to leave their jobs. Another 9% cited mental health concerns. Survey participants also were asked if they were offering new incentives to keep talent. Sixty-three percent said they were. Incentives offered include flexible work hours, remote work options, hybrid work arrangements, higher pay, and cash bonuses.

  • HR Technology

    CEO survey shows technology a priority. A new survey of CEOs from Fortune and Deloitte shows more than half of CEOs say innovation/new products or application of technology will be key to business success over the next year. The survey also shows more than 80% of CEOs intend to increase spending on technology modernization over the next 12 months, and nearly three-quarters say they are undergoing or preparing for digital and workforce/talent transformation. An announcement from Deloitte says the research shows CEOs plan to divert more money to areas they deem crucial to their business success. The survey shows 74% of the CEOs surveyed said their organizations were undergoing or preparing for digital transformation. The survey also shows four out of five CEOs expect their organizations to increase the level of spending on technology modernization, and more than two-thirds plan to increase spending on artificial intelligence (AI).

  • Federal Watch

    NLRB General Counsel announces priorities. Jennifer A. Abruzzo, General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), in August announced her offices priorities, including an examination of cases and subject matter areas in which, in the last several years, the Board overruled precedent. In the Mandatory Submissions to Advice Memorandum, Abruzzo listed 11 NLRB case areas that she identifies as doctrinal shifts away from previous Board precedent. Those cases involve employer handbook rules, confidentiality provisions in separation agreements, defining the scope of protected concerted activity, union access, and jurisdiction over religious institutions. Other subject areas she would like to examine include cases involving Weingarten rights, employee status, mutual aid or protection, and employer duty to recognize and bargain.

  • New NLRB GC identifies possible changes

    Those of you who have watched the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)—the nation's primary enforcer of labor law—over the years no doubt expect it to reshuffle its priorities when the White House changes parties. The Board swore in Jennifer Abruzzo as its new general counsel (GC) on July 22, 2021, and three weeks later, she released an internal memorandum blueprint for changes to the law she would like to see the agency implement.

  • It's time to think about the holidays: To party or not to party?

    As fall settles in, it's time to think about the upcoming holiday season. But the continuing pandemic makes it hard to plan. Will it be safe to party in person this year? Is it OK for vaccinated coworkers to gather for food, drink, and other merriment? Perhaps an alternative activity such as the Zoom parties some organizations threw last year are more appropriate. Or maybe a nice gift basket delivered to employees' homes would be a better option.

  • HR Technology

    Research finds racial disparities in pay widening. Wage gaps between the races have widened in the last 10 years, according to a report from The Conference Board. The disparity shows up even when examining workers of otherwise comparable backgrounds and qualifications. In 2010, researchers found black men with a bachelor's degree or higher earned 18% less than white men. By 2019, the gap had grown to 24%, driven by underrepresentation of black workers in high-paying industries and occupations. The report, "Mind the Gap: Factors Driving Racial Wage Gaps and the Solutions to Close Them," identifies several factors that are leading to growing racial wage gaps. The report says that if trends of the last decade continue, wage gaps will grow as black workers are severely underrepresented in fields and job markets likely to see the fastest growth in high-paying jobs.

  • Federal Watch

    Scabby the Rat survives NLRB decision. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a decision on July 21 finding a union didnt violate the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by displaying a 12-foot inflatable rat with red eyes, fangs, and claws and two large banners, one targeting a neutral employer, near the public entrance to a trade show. The NLRB General Counsel during the Trump administration had alleged the display of Scabby the Rat and the banners was unlawfully coercive. The Board had earlier solicited comments on the question. Three NLRB members joined in an opinion dismissing the complaint. In her separate concurrence, Chair Lauren M. McFerran expressed her belief the outcome of the caseLippert Components, Inc.was required by Board precedent. In a separate concurrence, members Marvin E. Kaplan and John F. Ring agreed the complaint must be dismissed to avoid creating a possible conflict with the First Amendment, but they expressed disagreement with part of the prior precedent. Member William J. Emanuel dissented, saying he would have found t