Understanding the Hiring Process in Texas: Your Rights Explained

Imagine you’re on the cusp of securing your ideal job. Excitement is natural, but so is a sense of caution. You’re about to navigate the complexities of Texas’s employment laws—a task that can seem overwhelming. At Galo Law Firm, we understand the intricacies of these laws and are prepared to elucidate the hiring process in Texas, helping you to grasp your rights and responsibilities. We want to be your advocate. Contact us today at 210-764-6135 to speak with a member of our experienced team.

Understanding Your Rights During the Hiring Process

A job application outlining terms of employment.

Awareness of your rights during the hiring process is a powerful tool for ensuring fair treatment, rather than just being a mere formality. The hiring process is riddled with potential pitfalls, from discriminatory language in job advertisements to intrusive background checks. But armed with knowledge, you can overcome these challenges. Here are some key sources of protection:

  • Federal law
  • State law
  • The EEOC
  • The Texas Labor Code

These are your allies, working together to create a fair and balanced employment landscape

Applicants for employment positions have rights whether or not they become employees. Under federal law, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate in its hiring process based on race, national origin, gender, pregnancy, age, disability, or religion. State and local laws may specify additional protected classes based on categories such as sexual orientation. Employers must abide by anti-discrimination laws at each stage of the hiring process, from placing the ad to interviewing, and the final selection of the candidate.

There are few exceptions to these rules, but an employer may discriminate on some bases if a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) exists. A BFOQ can be based on a reasonable and necessary job requirement, but this is a narrow exception.
If you are concerned about discrimination in hiring, contact The Galo Law Firm P.C. in San Antonio, Texas today to schedule a consultation with an employment law attorney to discuss your situation.

Indeed, the field of employment law is constantly changing and adapting. Recent laws, like the CROWN Act and Executive Order GA-40, have set new precedents in protecting potential employees from discrimination, including discrimination based on specific characteristics such as hair texture or protective hairstyles, and vaccination status.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) holds a central role in the fight against employment discrimination. This government agency is tasked with investigating complaints of job discrimination, enforcing federal laws against such discrimination, and overseeing all types of work situations. This includes not only hiring and firing but also promotions, harassment, training, wages, and benefits.

The EEOC enforces federal discrimination laws and upholds a number of federal laws pertaining to employment discrimination such as:

  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act
  • The Equal Pay Act

These laws apply to both private and public employers, ensuring equal opportunity and protection from discrimination for all job applicants.

Texas Labor Code

Texas supplements federal efforts to fight employment discrimination, such as those by the EEOC, with its own laws designed to safeguard job applicants. The Texas Labor Code incorporates the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act, designed to mitigate workplace discrimination and harassment. In addition, the Texas Workforce Commission plays a vital role in enforcing these laws and ensuring fair treatment for all workers.

But the protections provided by the Texas Labor Code don’t stop there. The law also requires many things from various types of Texas employers and employees. In addition to the Medical Leave Act, some requirements are as follows:

  • Private employers must prioritize veterans in employment decisions
  • Retail employers must accommodate employees’ religious beliefs and practices
  • Retail employees must have a minimum of 24 consecutive hours of rest or worship each week.

And in a unique blend of Second Amendment and employment rights, Texas law allows licensed employees to store firearms or ammunition in a locked vehicle in their employer’s parking area, with certain exceptions.

Privacy Rights

In addition to protections against discrimination, job applicants in Texas are also entitled to privacy rights. These rights safeguard job applicants from intrusive inquiries and unauthorized access to personal information throughout the hiring process.

So whether you’re applying for your first job or transitioning to a new career, rest assured that your personal information is protected.

The Hiring Process

Whenever an employer seeks to hire a new employee, the employer should take a number of steps before that new employee begins work:

  • Obtain the employee’s Social Security number or IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
  • Have the employee fill out a W-4 form for income tax withholding.
  • Ensure that Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) regulations are being followed.
  • Arrange to pay relevant federal and state unemployment compensation taxes.
  • Arrange to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes for the employee.
  • Ensure that workers’ compensation insurance covers the new employee.
  • Ensure that required labor notices are posted in the workplace as required by the Department of Labor (DOL).
  • Assist new employees with registration for employee benefits.

When an employer hires a new employee, the employer should be careful to avoid making promises to the employee that it may not be able to keep. Such false statements or promises on behalf of the employer may result in a breach of contract. An employer should be careful not to exaggerate the security of the job or the prospects of the business. A promise that stock options will be worth a given amount, that the employee has a job for life or that employee will receive significant pay increases may result in an implied contract. If these promises are not kept, the employer may be responsible to the employee for damages the employee incurred in relying on the employer’s promise.

Job Advertisements and Applications

The path to a new job begins with a job advertisement or application. But what happens when these advertisements or applications contain discriminatory language or illegal questions? These are not just ethical issues – they’re legal ones, too. In the United States, it’s unlawful to discriminate based on factors such as immigration status, race, age, or sex. This means that organizations must refrain from including any mention of gender, marital or parental status, unemployment status, race, ethnicity, or age in their job advertisements.

Job advertisements and applications serve as the initial interaction between employers and potential hires. Therefore, they should be designed to attract a diverse pool of candidates. One way of achieving this is by using inclusive language and focusing on qualifications and skills. Additionally, providing equal opportunity statements can help create an environment of acceptance and inclusivity.

Discriminatory Language

Job advertisements can also contain discriminatory language in various ways. It could be an advertisement for a position solely for a specific gender, or language that discriminates based on other protected characteristics such as sexual orientation. Both the EEOC and the Texas Labor Code consider such language to be an unlawful employment practice.

Employers who use discriminatory language in their job advertisements may face legal consequences. This could range from the removal of the offending advertisements to potential investigations by federal agencies such as the EEOC. To avoid these consequences, employers should refrain from using discriminatory language in their job postings.

Illegal Questions

Despite employers’ right to ask questions to make informed hiring decisions, some inquiries are strictly prohibited. These include inquiries about an applicant’s:

These questions are deemed illegal as they may lead to discrimination and violate the applicant’s rights under various employment laws, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

If an employer is found to have asked illegal questions, they could face penalties under state and federal laws, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Affected individuals may also have the opportunity to take legal action against the employer. It’s therefore important for employers to adhere to legal guidelines during the hiring process.

Background Checks and Employment Decisions

It’s typical for the hiring process to involve background checks. However, they must be conducted fairly and in compliance with state and federal laws. Employers must adhere to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and state laws when conducting background checks. Compliance involves ensuring fairness and adherence to regulations that prohibit discrimination based on protected characteristics such as national origin, color, sex, race, religion, disability, age, or genetic information.

Conducting Background Checks

Employers are obliged to comply with legal requirements when carrying out background checks. This includes:

  • Securing written consent from the applicant
  • Engaging a reputable screening provider
  • Conducting consistent screenings
  • Requesting only relevant information
  • Providing a copy of the background check report while adhering to all legal obligations

Employers also must maintain confidentiality during the background check process. This means implementing robust security measures to safeguard candidate information from unauthorized access and refraining from collecting irrelevant data. Breaches of these obligations can have significant consequences, including statutory damages, lawsuits, fines, damage to their reputation, and potential civil penalties.

Adverse Employment Actions

Adverse employment actions, also known as adverse employment action, can greatly affect an individual’s job circumstances. These actions include measures such as:

  • termination
  • demotion
  • denial of promotion
  • denial of benefits

The EEOC defines these actions as those which substantially impact an individual’s employment, including termination, demotion, pay reduction, or other adverse effects on an employee’s job status or conditions.

Employers cannot take adverse employment actions as a result of discriminatory practices or retaliation. However, if negative information is unveiled during a background check that is relevant to the job role, employers may take adverse employment actions.

Reasonable Accommodations and Disability Rights

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) stands as an important legislation, safeguarding equal opportunities in the workplace for individuals with disabilities. One of the key provisions of the ADA is the requirement for employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities. These accommodations could involve modifications or adjustments in the workplace that enable an employee with a disability to perform the essential functions of their job.

Under the ADA, job applicants and employees with disabilities are entitled to request reasonable accommodations, which employers are legally bound to provide. However, employers are not required to provide accommodations that would cause undue hardship. This balance between providing reasonable accommodations and avoiding undue hardship is a key aspect of the ADA.

Requesting and Providing Reasonable Accommodations

When it comes to requesting reasonable accommodations, job applicants need to provide evidence that they can perform the essential functions of the job with the requested accommodations. Employers, on the other hand, have a responsibility to engage in the interactive process with the employee to determine the appropriate reasonable accommodation.

There are some limitations to the provision of reasonable accommodations. For example, if providing an accommodation would cause undue hardship to the employer, then it is not required. Factors that might be considered in determining whether an accommodation would cause undue hardship include the cost of the accommodation, the employer’s financial resources, and the impact of the accommodation on the operation of the business.

Union Membership and Right-to-Work Laws

Texas allows employees the liberty to become part of labor unions and participate in collective bargaining. This gives them the power to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and working conditions. At the same time, Texas is a right-to-work state, which means that employees cannot be forced to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment.

These protections and rights are integral to sustaining an equitable employment environment. Whether you’re a union member advocating for better working conditions or an individual who prefers to negotiate directly with your employer, knowing your rights and obligations in relation to union membership and right-to-work laws is crucial.

Labor Union Rights

Labor unions hold a substantial place in the American labor market. They provide a platform for employees to collectively bargain for better wages, benefits, and working conditions. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) safeguards this right, prohibiting employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the act.

Unfortunately, labor union rights can sometimes be infringed upon. If this happens, employees have several avenues for recourse. They can:

  • File a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)
  • Seek advice from a labor law attorney team, like Galo Law Firm
  • Organize with colleagues to collectively address their concerns

Right-to-Work Laws

On the other hand, right-to-work laws offer protections for those employees who opt not to join a union, unlike the rights provided by labor unions. In Texas, these laws ensure that employees cannot be refused employment based on their membership or non-membership in a labor union. This gives workers the freedom to choose whether or not to join a union without fear of discrimination or retaliation.

While right-to-work laws provide important protections for employees, they can also have downsides. For instance, some critics argue that these laws can lead to lower wages and benefits, as workers without collective bargaining power may have limited negotiating capabilities. Nonetheless, the freedom to choose whether or not to join a union is a fundamental right that Texas law firmly upholds.

Understanding Wage and Hour Laws

Another crucial element of Texas employment law is represented by wage and hour laws. These laws set the state’s minimum wage, regulate overtime pay, and provide rules for certain types of employees. Knowing these laws can help ensure that you are being paid fairly for your work.

For example, the Texas Minimum Wage Act establishes the state’s minimum wage at $7.25 per hour, matching the federal minimum wage. Additionally, overtime pay regulations ensure that eligible employees receive proper compensation for working more than 40 hours per week.

Texas Minimum Wage Act

The Texas Minimum Wage Act is a key piece of legislation that ensures workers in Texas are paid a fair wage for their work. The Act establishes the minimum wage at $7.25 per hour, aligning with the federal minimum wage rate.

There are a few exceptions to this rule. These exceptions should be considered carefully. For instance, individuals under the age of 20 may receive an apprentice wage of $4.25 per hour during the initial 90 days of their employment or until they turn 20 years old. Additionally, tipped employees receive an hourly wage of $2.13, supplemented by tips. If the combined amount of tips and the $2.13 wage falls below the federal minimum wage of $7.25, the employer is required to compensate for the difference.

Contact Us for Knowledgeable Texas Employment Law Guidance 

In the end, the hiring process in Texas involves understanding a myriad of employment laws and regulations. From understanding your rights during the hiring process and conducting fair background checks to understanding union membership and right-to-work laws, there’s certainly a lot to handle. But remember, you’re not alone in this journey. At Galo Law Firm, we’re here to guide you every step of the way.

We commit ourselves to offering our clients the utmost in legal representation, professionalism, integrity, and unwavering dedication. With extensive experience in labor and employment law, we represent both employees and employers, helping them through some of the many complexities of:

Our team of experienced Texas employment law attorneys is dedicated to providing personalized and effective legal solutions to protect the rights and interests of our clients.

Whether you’re facing discrimination, harassment, retaliation, or other forms of workplace injustice, we are here to help. Our team can guide you through the legal process, providing legal advice and representation every step of the way.

Reach out to us today at 210-764-6135 for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the legal rights during the hiring process?
    • Job applicants are protected from illegal discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information under state and federal law. Employers cannot categorize potential employees based on protected classes.
  • What are the five main laws impacting the hiring process?
    • The key laws are Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the Immigration Reform and Control Act. These laws ensure fair and non-discriminatory hiring practices.
  • Is Texas a right-to-hire state?
    • Yes, Texas is a right-to-work state, meaning employment cannot be denied based on membership or non-membership in a labor union or organization.
  • What is the role of the EEOC in the hiring process?
    • The EEOC enforces federal laws, preventing employment discrimination and ensuring equal opportunities for all job applicants. They play a crucial role in upholding fair and lawful hiring practices.
  • Can I conduct background checks on job applicants in Texas?
    • Yes, but compliance with federal and state laws, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), is crucial.
  • What anti-discrimination laws should employers be aware of in Texas?
    • Texas follows federal laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Discrimination based on race, gender, age, and other protected classes is prohibited.
  • Is it mandatory to have a written employment contract in Texas?
    • While not required, having written employment agreements is advisable for clarity on terms and expectations.
  • Can employers ask about an applicant’s criminal history in Texas?
    • Yes, but there are restrictions. Ensure compliance with the Fair Chance Hiring Law, which limits inquiries into an applicant’s criminal history.
  • Are there restrictions on drug testing during the hiring process in Texas?
    • Drug testing is allowed, but employers should adhere to privacy and discrimination laws.
  • What is the minimum wage in Texas, and are there exceptions?
    • The current minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, with some exemptions for specific industries.
  • Can employers terminate employees without cause in Texas?
    • Texas follows the “at-will” employment doctrine, allowing termination without cause, but exceptions exist.
  • How can employers handle accommodation requests for disabilities?
    • Employers should engage in the interactive process, providing reasonable accommodations as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • What steps should employers take to ensure workplace safety in Texas?
    • Comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, creating a safe working environment.
  • Can employers in Texas enforce non-compete agreements?
    • Yes, but the agreements must be reasonable in scope, duration, and geographical area to be enforceable.

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