Navigating the pitfalls of labor and employment law can be challenging for even the most experienced employers, let alone individual business owners, entrepreneurs, and new government contractors. Employers face numerous regulatory and compliance issues, concerns over the protection of their critical and confidential information, and matters regarding remedies or defense when things do not go as planned. At Hicks Thomas LLP, our Texas employment attorneys have decades of combined experience enable our firm to provide an array of services in the area of employment law litigation, counseling, and advice.
For more information about Texas Employment Law, please contact Stewart Hoffer, Head of Hicks Thomas’ Employment Law Section.
Hicks Thomas’ employment law expertise include matters involving:
- Theft of trade secrets and unfair competition
- Discrimination, harassment, and retaliation
- Collective action wage and hour defense
- Hiring, performance, and termination issues
- Texas Workforce Commission unemployment claims and appeals
- Employment and executive compensation agreements
- Policies, procedures, and handbooks
- Texas Workforce Commission audits
- Leave of absence and disability accommodations
Hicks Thomas litigates in federal and state courts around the nation, and prosecutes and defends administrative proceedings before both federal and state agencies. Because objectives and efficient resolutions are different for every company, our Texas employment litigation lawyers place an emphasis on client collaboration and implementation of legal strategies tailored to their specific industries and needs.
Trade secrets and proprietary information which provide an industry edge are among a business’ most valuable assets. As such, it becomes essential to take reasonable measures in protecting these assets pro-actively through carefully crafted agreements and safeguards, as well as through available actions which provide remedies when critical information cultivated by your company is obtained or disclosed through wrongful or dishonest means.
Our Texas employment attorneys understand both the legal and business needs involved in protecting clients’ key information and competitive advantage. When confronted with decisions about these critical business issues, we understand clients need both advisors who can provide strategic and practical counsel and litigators who are able to protect a client’s interests in state or federal court. With a focus on customer service, Hicks Thomas attorneys are well-positioned to provide timely advice and in-court representation for clients facing the potential loss of their business relationships and confidential and proprietary information.
- As Advisors, our counsel is tailored strategically to the unique needs of clients in all aspects of the employment relationship, with a focus on the protection of intellectual property and trade secrets through legally binding and enforceable policies and agreements. This includes crafting customized agreements that protect clients’ interests, maximize competitive advantage, and minimize litigation risks, including non-compete or non-solicitation agreements and non-disclosure agreements, among others.
- As Litigators, we help clients avoid the high costs and uncertainty of litigation by attempting to negotiate the resolution of unfair competition disputes as early as possible. Creative settlements resulting in positive business outcomes are the ultimate goal. With litigation, we devise efficient strategies to address all relevant matters, including injunctions, discovery, and trial. By leveraging experience and connections with forensic, economic, and industry consultants and experts, we focus on moving quickly to secure judicial intervention with minimal business interruption.
Our employment attorneys focus on advising, counseling, and defending clients against discrimination, harassment, and retaliation issues arising under the Civil Rights Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, Equal Pay Act, Family & Medical Leave Act, and state-law equivalents. Our combined expertise offers clients experience in both state and federal disputes, as well as guidance through the mandatory administrative process with either the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or equivalent state agencies, such as the Texas Workforce Commission.
In addition to compliance, we assist employers facing investigations and legal actions involving all types of employee grievance and discrimination matters, including those based on race, gender, or religion, or disability and reasonable accommodations. Additionally, we ensure employers have access to focused, proactive counseling as changes and issues arise.
Because we approach each client’s case with the understanding that litigation can be both costly and time consuming, our attorneys collaborate with clients on case strategy and risk management from the beginning, to avoid surprises down the line. When doing so, we draw from a breadth of knowledge regarding the relevant law, and familiarity with the state and federal judges who adjudicate these types of lawsuits, as well as opposing counsel who frequently bring them. This combination of experience, depth of legal knowledge, and sensitivity to the client’s ultimate goals, allows Hicks Thomas to proactively counsel and efficiently defend our clients.
Wage and hour disputes under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) expose employers to substantial liability. Because these actions have proliferated in light of plaintiff-sided laws, increased administrative enforcement efforts, and mandatory fees for attorneys who pursue collective actions, their potential impact on a business, including penalties or costly litigation, warrants competent attention from attorneys who can address compliance issues and efficiently handle disputes.
Hicks Thomas attorneys have the experience and resources to keep clients well-informed, well-prepared, and well-represented in any wage and hour dispute. We respond quickly when a lawsuit is filed or a federal or state investigation commences, and are often aware of them before our clients are. We offer cutting edge strategies to help limit a client’s exposure and litigation costs, and have extensive experience defending against every type of wage and hour claim, including but not limited to:
- Misclassification of employees
- Unpaid overtime
- Validity of tip pools
- Calculation of regular rate
- Motor Carrier Act Exemption
- Missed meal and rest periods
Hicks Thomas also works with clients to help ensure compliance with applicable wage and hour laws and regulations before litigation commences. Our attorneys work with clients to identify and address potential exposure to penalties or litigation, and apply practical knowledge to ensure counsel is driven by everyday work realities, the effect those realities have on wage payment issues, and the unique sources of proof of compliance available in each industry.
In addition to informally resolving wage and hour disputes as they arise in the workplace, our firm combats claims, including class decertification and defending claims on the merits, when litigation becomes inevitable. Our legal team also has experience representing clients in wage and hour investigations instituted by the United States Department of Labor and state labor departments on an ongoing basis.
Hicks Thomas attorneys work with clients daily to manage any issues that may arise during the employment lifecycle. From hiring and performance to termination, Hicks Thomas advises and counsels clients to minimize the risks associated with hiring and terminating employees.
- Hiring – During the hiring process, Hicks Thomas assists its clients in negotiating and preparing employment agreements to both memorialize the agreed terms of employment, as well as protect the client’s interests through legally enforceable non-disclosure, non-competition, and non-solicitation covenants. We also assist in staffing and independent contractor analysis under employment, tax, and benefit law, and applicable law from different states and industries.
- Performance – Sometimes during their employment, good employees make poor decisions that put clients at risk for claims by other employees. Hicks Thomas helps guide clients through the process of analyzing employee behavior and advising on appropriate levels of disciplinary action, including termination, commensurate with the employee’s actions. Our attorneys also have experience counseling clients in workplace safety and, if necessary, seeking and obtaining peace bonds and restraining orders to help ensure the safety of other employees while present at a client’s worksite.
- Termination – Eventually, an employee may need to be terminated because of performance problems or other legitimate business justifications. Before termination, Hicks Thomas assists its clients with identifying and implementing the steps necessary to minimize the risk of potential claims of wrongful termination and protect key information and competitive advantages.
In Texas, employees typically seek unemployment benefits even if they are not qualified to receive such benefits under Texas law. Texas employers should know and understand their rights with respect to which employees actually qualify for benefits.
Hicks Thomas can help. Our attorneys have the experience to assist clients in responding to unemployment claims and appealing unfavorable determinations, both initially, by hearing officers, and by the Commission. From communicating with the hearing officers and identifying relevant evidence to preparing witnesses to testify at telephone hearings, Hicks Thomas attorneys are well-positioned to help clients through this often confusing administrative maze, and to seek final judicial relief if warranted by the circumstances.
A company’s policies and procedures can be essential to its operations and defining the working relationship with its employees. Hicks Thomas helps clients ensure their policies and procedures are consistent with the organization’s goals and corporate culture, as well as in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.
Hicks Thomas revises outdated policies and handbooks, tailors new template policies to conform to its clients’ specific needs, and helps establish internal systems to efficiently implement policies. Our approach to employee handbooks also prioritizes positive employee relations and enhanced productivity.
Backed by decades of experience working in partnership with its clients on employment issues, our attorneys meet clients’ needs when it comes to compliant employment policies and procedures that protect their interests and provide remedies when violations occur.
At times, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) may initiate an audit of an employer if it believes an employer may be incorrectly classifying employees as independent contractors rather than employees. Hicks Thomas attorneys are experienced in guiding clients through such TWC audits by investigating TWC’s claims and working with TWC auditors to attempt to minimize the effect an audit may have on the client’s business. We have the skills and experience to see TWC audits through from beginning to end, with an eye toward resolving the audit in the client’s favor.
Employers face challenges in their obligation to manage employee leave and absences, as well as requests for disability accommodations. Due to evolving regulatory and statutory changes, including those under state or federal laws such as the Family and Medical Leave Act and Americans with Disabilities Act, these issues must be addressed frequently and with particular care. Having effective counsel when doing so can help reduce exposure to litigation brought by administrative and private parties.
Hicks Thomas attorneys address accommodation and leave of absence matters with a practical, result-oriented approach. Not only does this enable clients to ensure compliance with various and at times conflicting areas of law, but also to address and administer their obligations as employers effectively.
Discuss Your Needs with a Texas Employment Lawyer
Employment law matters demand the insight, experience, and foresight of attentive representation that prioritizes personalized service and strategies and the ultimate success of your business. From counsel and compliance to mitigation, defense, and litigation, our legal team at Hicks Thomas is prepared to help businesses of all types efficiently navigate their unique legal concerns.
For additional information on any of the above practice areas, or to see how Hicks Thomas may be able to assist you with your employment law needs, please contact Stewart Hoffer, Head of Hicks Thomas’ Labor and Employment Section.
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