Exactly a week ago, the Texas Legislature began its bi-annual session during which it will consider and vote on hundreds of bills. Among those are 24 employment-related bills which, if passed, could affect wide swaths of employers in Texas.
While most of the bills will not make it past the committee stage, they are worth looking into for a number of reasons. First, they signal which of the myriad of issues that have been at the forefront of legislative efforts in other states in 2018 our legislators consider important enough to address in Texas. Second, the ultimate success or failure to these bills is going to indicate exactly how much difference the 12 additional House seats made for Democrats. Finally, some of the bills, while failing at the state-wide stage, may end up being adopted in some form or fashion by cities or counties within our state. So, let’s take a look:
What is NOT on the Menu?
Notably absent from the current list of bills (which may be supplemented during the session) are any proposals related to non-compete agreements, trade secrets misappropriation or the notorious Texas Anti-Slapp statute. While various groups are considering introducing some bills amending the Texas Anti-Slapp statute to curb its application, there is no indication that the Texas Covenants not to Compete Act or the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act are even on the legislative radar during this session.
What is on the Menu?
Bills Affecting Food and Retail Businesses
HB640 – Requires certain employers in food and retail business to provide advance notice of employee work schedules.
HB133 – Prohibits employer from receiving tips paid to “tipped employees” and declares such gratuities “property of employee”
Bills Related to #MeToo Movement and Sexual Harassment
SB159/HB618 – Prohibits adverse employment action by employers against employees who refuse to sign arbitration agreements that require employees to arbitrate sexual assault or sexual harassment clams or sign non-disclosure agreement prohibiting discussion of facts related to their sexual assault or sexual harassment claim.
HB572 – Allows unemployment compensation to employees who left work due to sexual harassment as long as certain conditions are met.
HB619 – Removes damages caps for employers in cases involving sexual harassment and sexual assaults.
SB46 – Prohibits sexual harassment by employers with one or more employees.
Bills Expanding Employees’ Rights to Recover Unpaid Wages
HB106 – Prohibits employer retaliation against employees who seek recovery of unpaid wages and procedures in wage claim hearings conducted by the Texas Workforce Commission.
HB399 – Extending the deadline for employees to file a claim for unpaid wages with the Texas Workforce Commission from 180 days to 365 days.
Bills Related to Equal Pay
SB160 – Prohibits sex discrimination in employment compensation.
Bills Related to LGBT Employment Rights
Bills Setting Minimum Wage
HB194 – Setting a minimum wage as a greater of: $15.00 or the federal minimum wage.
SB113 – Setting a minimum wage as a greater of: $10.10 or the federal minimum wage.
SJR22 – Proposing a constitutional amendment increasing minimum wage to a greater of: $10.10 or the federal minimum wage.
Bills Providing Additional Protections for Job Applicants and Employees
HB393 – Prohibits employers from inquiring about wage history during employment application process or considering such information in making a hiring decision unless an employee voluntarily discloses such information.
HB495 – Prohibits employers from inquiring about or considering job applicants’ criminal history prior to making a conditional employment offer.
HB144 – Prohibits an adverse employment action against an employee or applicant that is based wholly or partly on the employee’s or applicant’s credit report unless certain conditions are met.
HB504 – Prohibits employers from terminating employees for serving on grand jury.
And there you have it. At the end of the legislative session – which will end in May unless a special session is called – I will take a look at which of these bills, if any, became the law in Texas.
Leiza Dolghih is a partner at Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP in Dallas, Texas and a Co-Chair of the firm’s Trade Secrets and Non-Compete Disputes national practice. Her practice includes commercial, intellectual property and employment litigation. You can contact her directly at Leiza.Dolghih@LewisBrisbois.com or (214) 722-7108.