State Labor Laws, 2003
the responsibility of paying assigned em- ployees’ wages even if they had not con- tracted for such payments.
Department of labor. Legislation was en- acted extending the Texas Workforce Com- mission through September 1, 2009. Among other provisions, it also adopted guidelines regarding the functions of the commission, amended the qualifications for commission members, revised the grounds for removal from the commission, and established mem- ber training requirements.
All functions and activities performed by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation relating to conducting adminis- trative hearings at the department were trans- ferred to the State Office of Administrative Hearings.
The requirement, under dispute resolu- tion procedures, that the Texas Workforce Commission enter an order in accordance with the final determination of an action un- der the Judicial Review of Commission De- cision subchapter was repealed.
vided to certain persons in the uniformed services and military service of the United States including protection from job dis- crimination and reemployment rights when returning from active duty.
A person who is called to active military duty as a member of the Texas National Guard in the service of the State or the United States and who suffers an economic hardship as a result of serving on active duty will now be eligible to receive supplemental pay. The comptroller is to establish the Texas National Guard members’supplemen- tal active duty pay account in the general revenue fund. A Guard member may receive an amount, to be determined by the adjutant general, not to exceed the lesser of the amount required to alleviate the economic hardship the member suffers as a result of serving on active duty, or the difference between the amount of income that the member has lost from civilian employment as a result of be- ing called to active duty and the amount of military pay and allowances the member re- ceives from State or Federal sources while on active duty.
Other laws. An addition to the Penal Code makes it unlawful for a person to know- ingly traffic another person with the intent that the trafficked person engage in forced labor or services or in prostitution or child pornography. An offense will be a felony of the second degree, except that it will be a felony of the first degree if the offense in- volves prostitution or child pornography and the person who is trafficked is younger than age 14, or if the commission of the offense results in the death of the person who is trafficked. “Traffic” means to trans- port another person or to entice, recruit, harbor, provide, or otherwise obtain an- other person for transport by deception, coercion, or force.
The law establishing guidelines relating to acceptable off-duty employment by com- missioned officers of the Texas Department of Public safety was amended to specify that the guidelines are to be applied uniformly to all supervisory and non-supervisory com- missioned officers, and to provide that if the department denies approval of an officer’s secondary employment or proposed second- ary employment, he or she must be promptly notified in writing of the specific guideline on which the department’s deci- sion was based and why the employment is prohibited by the guideline.
A member of the State military forces, who is ordered to active State duty by the Governor or by other proper authority un- der State law, will now be entitled to the same benefits and protections as those pro-
Employees of the State called to ac- tive duty during a national emergency to serve in a reserve component of the Armed Forces may use any accrued vacation leave, earned compensatory leave, or over- time leave to maintain benefits for the employee or his or her dependents while on military duty. The State agency is to grant sufficient emergency leave as differ- ential pay to a State employee on unpaid military leave if the employee’s military gross pay is less than the employee’s State gross pay. The combination of emergency leave and military pay may not exceed the employee’s actual State gross pay.
If a municipal or county employee who is a member of a reserve component of the Armed Forces of the United States, includ- ing any part of the State military forces, is called to active military duty and subse- quently exhausts all military leave to which he or she is entitled under State law, the mu- nicipality or county may continue the individual’s salary payments until the per- son is no longer on active duty.
If a firefighter or police officer employed by a municipality is called to active military duty for any period of time, his or her em- ployer must continue to maintain any health, dental, or life insurance coverage and any health or dental benefits coverage that the firefighter or police officer received through the municipality on the date he or she was called to active military duty until the mu- nicipality receives written instructions from
Monthly Labor Review
the firefighter or police officer to change or discontinue the coverage. A firefighter or police officer may, without restrictions as to the amount of time, voluntarily substitute for a firefighter or police officer who has been called to active Federal military duty for a period expected to last 12 months or longer. Municipalities are to maintain military leave time accounts to receive and distribute do- nated leave.
The Education Code was amended to provide that a school district employee with available personal leave is entitled to use the leave for compensation during a term of active military service. In addition, school districts were authorized to adopt a policy providing for the paid leave of absence of employees taking leave for active military service.
Wages. The section of the minimum wage law establishing the wage rate for employees who regularly receive tips was amended to delete a provision that tipped employees could be paid not less than 55 percent of the minimum wage when the balance received from tips was sufficient to bring the em- ployee to the minimum wage. The law now refers to the cash wage obligation established by administrative rule that matches the Fed- eral minimum cash wage of $2.13 per hour.
The Department of Human Resource Management was directed to conduct a study regarding salary data related to whether or not compensation paid to State employees differs between genders. A re- port, including any proposed legislation, was to be made to the Government Opera- tions Interim Committee during the 2003 interim. Benchmark positions were to be established and examined for factors includ- ing for the percentage of each gender in the position, the average length of employment by the State and in each position for each gender, and the average salary of male and female employees. The study was also to examine the percentage of part-time State employees of each gender.
The section of the payment of wages law prohibiting retaliation against an employee who files or is about to file a complaint, who testifies or is about to testify in an enforce- ment proceeding, or who the employer be- lieves may file a complaint or testify was amended. Previously, the law protected employees from discharge or threat of dis- charge. It now prohibits discharge, demo- tion, or any other form of retaliation against an employee in the terms, privileges, or con- ditions of employment.