January, 2012 | The Law Offices of Gregory D. Jordan

Employment Actions Based on Pregnancy Should be Addressed Promptly by an Experienced Austin Employment Lawyer

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the similar state statute prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy. Sometimes, however, it is not clear what may constitute pregnancy discrimination under the appropriate statutes. While it is almost never acceptable to terminate an employee because of her pregnancy, there are sometimes job accommodations or job changes that may be necessitated by a pregnancy. For example, safety concerns for the expectant mother or the unborn child may make certain changes to an employee’s job appropriate under the law.

Another issue that arises quite often in the pregnancy context is the issue of FMLA leave. Generally speaking, an employer with 50 or more employees must allow eligible workers to take FMLA leave of up to 12 work weeks per year. FMLA leave is often used by a mother after she has given birth. It may also be used by the father after childbirth. When an individual is on FMLA leave, the employer is generally required to preserve the employee’s job role and title or provide the employee with an equivalent position with similar pay/benefits and opportunities upon the employee’s return. Group health benefits generally must also be maintained while an employee is on FMLA leave.

An employee in Texas who has been subjected to pregnancy discrimination or discrimination for taking FMLA leave should usually file a charge through the EEOC or the Texas Workforce Commission – Civil Rights Division. Proceeding with such claims can sometimes be very complex and an employee faced with pregnancy discrimination or discrimination on the basis of taking FMLA leave is well advised to contact a knowledgeable Austin employment attorney prior to filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC or the Texas Workforce Commission. Employers are also well advised to promptly contact a knowledgeable Austin employment lawyer if they receive notice that an employee has filed such a charge against them. To learn more contact Austin employment attorney and Austin business litigation attorney Greg Jordan at 512-419-0684.

Non-executive Mineral Rights Owners Have Rights in Texas Oil and Gas Disputes

In oil and gas disputes, mineral rights holders that do not have executive rights may have claims against the executive rights holder. With substantial money at stake and sought after minerals in the Texas soil, greed, spite, and games can sometimes get in the way of everybody benefiting from mineral exploration.

Typically, disputes between executive and non-executive rights holders arise because there are questions about the duties that are owed to the non-executive mineral rights owners. Historically, this duty is called the duty of utmost good faith and fair dealing. For example, the executive rights holder should generally seek the reasonable benefits from developing the land and allow the non-executive owner to obtain such benefits. That said, an executive owner has no right to pool non-executive owners. An executive owner, however, should notify the non-executive owners of the execution of a pooled lease so that those owners can choose to ratify it or not.

Recent Texas Supreme Court rulings have clarified the fiduciary duties that executive rights holders owe to non-executive mineral rights owners. If the non-executives are deprived of benefits that they should be receiving, they may have a claim against the executive rights holders. In cases that have sided with non-executives, this can mean the executive’s rights can be cancelled along with any leases or contracts they signed that violate duties to the non-executive rights holders. Actual and exemplary damages can also be sought.

When mineral rights holders have an oil and gas dispute, they should consult with an experienced Texas oil and gas lawyer to ensure their rights are being upheld and that further harm is not being done. To learn more, contact Austin oil and gas attorney Gregory D. Jordan at (512) 419-0684.

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