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Employment Law

Employees

Schreiber | Knockaert PLLC represents individuals in employment litigation in areas as diverse as wage and hour/unpaid overtime claims, lawsuits (or threatened lawsuits) involving non-competition agreements, abuse by bosses, and wrongful termination. Employment litigation is serious. The livelihoods of workers and their families are at stake. Most people spend large portions of their lives at work and, even if work isn't always wonderful, workers are protected from violations of the law, discrimination, abuses, and illegal contracts.

Wage and hour/unpaid overtime

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay overtime to non-exempt employees who work more than 40 hours in a week. Employers who misclassify workers as exempt from overtime, and pay salary, owe back pay and fines. Non-exempt workers are those who do blue-collar work or are white-collar workers don't have management authority. Violations of the FLSA are serious and are prosecuted seriously. If you weren't the only worker misclassified and denied overtime, we can bring a class action on behalf of the other workers who were denied overtime.

The attorneys of Schreiber | Knockaert PLLC have filed suits on behalf of a class of blue-collar workers who were paid salary and then worked a potentially dangerous numbers of hours at drilling sites (two weeks of 16 hours a day, with only one week off) and were never paid the overtime they deserved. We brought suit on behalf of all the workers who were wrongfully denied overtime and were overworked. When one of our clients was unlawfully terminated in retaliation for being part of the overtime suit, we filed a retaliation lawsuit for him in the same court and have fought the company fiercely for retaliating against an employee who was trying to enforce his legal rights. 

If you have been denied overtime and are overworked, we'd love to help you get the back pay you deserve.

Wrongful Termination

Texas is an "employment at will" state, meaning that, generally, workers can be fired at any time and employees can quit at any time. Employment at will, though, is constrained by anti-discrimination laws including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and other provisions of law. Title VII (Title 7) protects workers and prevents employees from being fired based on discrimination due to race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Other provisions of federal law prohibit discrimination in employment based on handicap (ADA), family status or illness (FMLA), or age (ADEA).

Schreiber | Knockaert PLLC represents employees who have been wrongfully terminated in violation of the law. We are not afraid to take difficult cases or cases that are out of the ordinary. We represented a male administrative employee who was sexually harassed by a female boss and forced to quit (constructive discharge) and received a confidential settlement that our client was extremely pleased with. We have represented victims of male-on-male sexual harassment, and have filed claims for race-based discrimination, age discrimination and sex discrimination. We have also filed a claim on behalf of a worker who was fired due to the high cost of life-saving medicine he was legitimately prescribed and that the company didn’t want to pay for as part of a self-funded insurance plan. We will take the hard cases and we'll fight for justice on behalf of those who have been discriminated against.

Retaliation

Retaliation is a subsection of wrongful termination law and exists to protect workers who bring claims against companies to vindicate their legal rights and are fired because of it. One of the biggest challenges in an employee bringing a wage/hour claim, or reporting illegal activity, is the fear that the employee will be fired for filing the lawsuit. Many federal laws protect those who seek to vindicate their rights by filing a lawsuit or reporting very serious violations of the law.

While most companies are smart enough not to fire an employee in retaliation for bringing a claim, and the claims are rare, some companies are that foolish and arrogant. They will make up reasons that the employee was fired, trying to show it wasn’t for bringing a claim. Some work hard at masking their true reasons. We work harder at tearing those reasons down. We fight these cases even harder than others because the company’s conduct is so bad. As officers of the court, it offends us deeply when a worker is fired for enforcing his rights in court. And, we protect our clients at all costs. We will go after the company hammer and tong if they retaliate against our clients for bringing a claim.

Hostile Work Environment/Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

A "hostile work environment" under federal law is one in which the employee is harassed to such a degree that he or she can't do their job properly, or that changes the terms of employment. While the plain wording of the law – and company policy which tracks the wording of the law – don’t have this high standard, the courts have interpreted federal and Texas law to make it this difficult to bring a hostile work environment case. An employee also has a duty to inform the company (through a supervisor or HR) of the hostile conduct, to give the company the chance to fix it.

Most companies are reasonable and don’t want their employees harassed. Others care about money more than people and treat HR as a way to protect the company, not the employee. It is those companies that we fight. We have experience prosecuting hostile work environment claims, and can work with you to see if the employer’s conduct will merit a hostile work environment lawsuit, or if there are actions that the employee can take now to protect themselves at work from a hostile boss or co-employee, then will set up a hostile work environment case if the company does not act to correct the situation.

Intentional infliction of emotional distress is similar to hostile work environment, though intentional infliction requires a physical manifestation of the emotional distress – nausea, sleepless nights, severe anxiety – but this, too, happens. When it does, we are there to stand up to the employer and fight for our clients. In order to hold the company responsible for intentional infliction of emotional distress by an employee/supervisor, the conduct must have been done to benefit the employer, or the employer must ratify it after the fact, typically by not punishing the offending employee/supervisor. These situations are rare, but they happen and we have brought suit for intentional infliction of emotional distress at work.


We bring lawsuits

Most clients think that lawyers bring lawsuits, but some do not. Some lawyers have expertise in different areas and can help employees with filing claims with administrative bodies like the EEOC, but don’t bring cases in federal or state courts. We do.

We bring cases in state and federal courts on behalf of employees. We can bring the administrative complaint first and will negotiate with the company, but if they don’t make things right, we sue, and we will try the case. Because we have a track record in court, we believe we are more effective negotiators. We don’t bluff or threaten. We simply tell the company what’s going to happen if they don’t pay. We have the ability and expertise to go down to the courthouse and convince a jury to make them pay.

 

Joseph M. Schreiber

Founding Partner

Erik A. Knockaert

Founding Partner