Employment Law FAQ

Answers from Houston Employment Law Attorneys

Take a look at the following list of some of the most frequently asked questions about Texas State and federal employment laws.  If you do not see the question pertinent to your case, or if you need more information than the answer provides, please feel free to contact our Houston employment law attorneys from Moore & Associates today.

Can salaried workers earn overtime?
Some can, others cannot.  The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has a set list of employees exempt from earning overtime. Being salaried is in no way an automatic disqualification from overtime pay benefits, even if you were switched from hourly to salary.

If I am salaried but don’t work 40 hours one week, can my employer reduce my pay that week?
Absolutely not.  Salaried employees are paid a certain amount without consideration for how many hours they worked in that pay period, or how much work was actually done.  If your employer has been docking your pay for hours missed, you might not be considered an authentic salary employee and should also be entitled to overtime pay.

Can overtime be legally substituted for “comp time”?
Government entities and public employers can offer nonexempt employees “comp time” (compensatory time-off) instead of overtime pay but this is rare.  If you are employed by a private company, as most Americans are, you cannot be forced to take “comp time” instead of overtime. In many cases, you do not even have the option of accepting it willingly.

If I earn tips regularly, can I get paid less than minimum wage? All the way down to $2.13 an hour?
As an employee who earns tips each shift, such as someone who waits tables, your employer can reduce your hourly wages down to the federal minimum of $2.13 an hour.  The idea is that you should be making enough tips per hour to bring you back to state minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, or more. For waiters and waitresses across the country, this is a huge problem as restaurant owners knowingly abuse the system by enforcing this scant hourly rate even when employees are working shifts that involve zero tips, such as training days or staying after hours to clean.  If you aren’t waiting tables and earning tips, you cannot have your wages reduced for those hours.

Do I have to contact the EEOC before retaining an attorney?
This depends on how much time you have left to file your claim, and how prepared you want to be in case anything unforeseen comes up.  Texas State law usually gives you just 180 days to file an employment discrimination claim, and federal law gives you less than a year (300 days). If your deadline is right around the calendar’s corner and about to run out, you may want to talk to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as soon as possible just to stake your claim, so to speak.  Otherwise, we always advise you speak with our employment lawyers first to avoid any critical mistakes during filing that could alter the EEOC’s investigation or negatively impact your chances of the fair treatment you deserve.

Does Texas State law recognize and enforce non-compete agreements?
When you are hired, you might have to sign a non-compete agreement, or a document that states you will not work for or with any of your employer’s direct competitors while you are employed there or for some time after you leave the company.  If the non-compete agreement is properly drafted, it is enforceable and there could be consequences, like high fines, if you violate it.  In our history as employment law attorneys, we have found that many non-compete agreements are invalid or unenforceable due to incorrect legal language or execution.  Let us review one such agreement if it is causing you trouble and we will tell you the truth of the matter.

Do I have to wait to get fired before I can hire a lawyer?
Waiting to be terminated before getting an employment law attorney on your side is like waiting until you’re sweating profusely before switching on the air conditioner.  Sure, it’s not a wrong decision but why stay uncomfortable for so long? Speaking with our law firm before you are fired can help you learn your rights before matters at work get any worse, and it can provide evidence of your worry or suspicions if things are taken to court later.  Remember: your employer cannot penalize you for simply speaking to an attorney, so you are free to act as soon as you want.

Is it still sexual harassment if the victim is the same sex as the perpetrator?
Yes.  Many employees fear they have no legal recourse for sexual harassment coming from their boss or coworkers because they are all the same sex. The truth is that same-sex sexual harassment is a real problem, occurring through verbal insults, physical touching, and so on, and it can be addressed with legal action.  If you are being harassed in anyway while at work, do not stand for it.  Come to our law firm and let us know what is happening in a free case evaluation so we can begin to protect your rights.

Does Moore & Associates take cases against large companies and corporations?
Our Houston employment law attorneys do not back down from any case.  We know that we are often the first and last legal hope for our clients who are being mistreated or exploited by their employers.  If we need to take on a company for you, it doesn’t matter if they’re big or small – we’ll fight them all.