Frustrated with the high number of employees that did not show up for work in the fall and winter last year, Jim Duncey, the owner of Duncey’s Caps, Inc., issues a memo to all employees that they must provide proof that they got a flu vaccine shot by January 1, 2018 or they would be fired.  Tommy Goinmyownway protests, saying that his religious beliefs prohibit him from getting vaccinations.  New Year’s Day comes and Tommy is fired after he doesn’t provide the required proof.  As he is escorted out of the plant Tommy threatens to sue Duncey’s for discrimination.  Does he have a claim? Continue Reading Sticking it to Your Employees During Flu Season

Frazzled by the incessant demands for her company Acne Brick’s financial records from her husband’s divorce lawyer Ditcher Quick, company president Annie Acne was wondering what her next maneuver might be when her Information Technology officer walked into her office. The subpoena that he was holding demanded production of all Acne email communications between Annie and (i) her divorce lawyers and (ii) her attorney brother who helped her rearrange just a few things. Annie immediately called her attorney Elle O’Quent to ask, “Can Acne Brick be ordered to produce Annie’s emails from Acne’s computer?” Continue Reading Is Your Company Email to Santa Protected?

Jim Duncey, the owner of Duncey’s Caps, Inc., decides to hold an employee/significant other holiday party this year with live music and an open cash bar managed by a third-party bartending service.  Each employee will get three drink tickets. Jim also hires private security for the party because he knows there’s bad blood between two of his employees, Jake Hammerhead and Tom Colecocken. As the party is winding down, Hammerhead grabs another drink from the bar, even though he’s clearly intoxicated. As he turns around he bumps into Colecocken and yells “Watch where you’re going!” Colecocken, who is also visibly intoxicated, turns and goes nose-to-nose with Hammerhead. At that point a crowd gathers around, and people start video recording. When Hammerhead refuses to back down, Colecoken throws a sucker punch, leaving Hammerhead knocked out on the floor.

With the entire room stunned, Colecocken manages to walk out the door and get into his truck to drive home. At the very first traffic light, he crashes into three parked vehicles. Luckily no one is hurt. The police arrest him for DWI, but Colecocken gets bailed out once he sobers up. 

The next day, Karl Bumler, another Duncey’s Caps employee, finds out that his wife posted her video of the fight on their joint UzeTube account. Bumler called his wife and told her to take it down, but it’s too late – the video had gone viral. On Monday morning Duncey calls Hammerhead, Colecocken and Bumler into his office and summarily fires all three. Can Duncey do that? Do Duncey, the bartending service, or the security service have any liability to the owners of the three parked cars?
Continue Reading Fight Night at Your Company Holiday Party

Reverend Leatl Hope, pastor of the to Boring Fourth Day Adventist Church in Gun Barrel City has been reading about the deadly shootings in churches all over the country, and he is worried. His small congregation does not have the resources to retain a full-time security officer. Yet, he believes that he should be doing something to protect his flock. Does he have any options?

Continue Reading Voluntary Church Members Packing in Church

Board of directors member Y.I. Gnough, who is also president of Algae Company, is in a pickle. Although denying any knowledge of sexual harassment and misconduct by the company founder and deal-maker Iam Algae, three co-board members resigned fearing for their reputational and financial survival. Employees are fueling the rumors of women who complained of unwanted touching, sexual harassment and other over-the-line behavior. Even Algae’s former counsel discloses that several years ago the board and the company were told of three or four confidential settlements with women. Company investors suggest that Y.I. and fellow officers and directors breached their fiduciary duty. Should Y.I. be concerned about his pocketbook and his reputation?

Continue Reading Am I My Director’s Keeper?

Co-authors: JP Vogel and Tim Fandrey

Bill Deron bought a 100-acre tract next to a creek outside the City of Houston.  Deron planned to build a subdivision where some of the homes abut a creek.  The other homes would sit about 15 feet higher than the creekside homes.  Deron disclosed to the creekside buyers that they needed flood insurance.  But he did not tell any other home buyers to purchase flood insurance.  Hurricane Harvey dumped so much rain on the neighborhood that all of the homes in Deron’s neighborhood flooded.  Homeowners soon learned that the entire neighborhood sat in a floodplain.  Did Deron have a duty to disclose whether the development or any part thereof is in a floodplain or even do something more? What about the government entity who approves the development? Continue Reading Washed Away: What Rights Do You Have When Your Home is Flooded?

Vlad “Dracula” Smith was looking for some new digs big enough to accommodate his growing family. While searching the MLS listings, Dracula stumbled across a castle belonging to Victor “Frankenstein” Jones.  Little did Dracula know, but the castle was widely reported to be haunted.  “Frankenstein” had even made the front page of the local paper when he reported the haunting to the local paper and Reader’s Digest last Halloween.  However, in negotiations for the sale of his castle, Frankenstein, and his broker, failed to tell Dracula about the newspaper and magazine articles.  When Dracula later learned of the stories, he sued Frankenstein for rescission and damages. Did Frankenstein have a duty to disclose the haunting to Dracula? Continue Reading Duty to Disclose that a House for Sale is Haunted?

Because of Hurricane Harvey, oil and gas production company Gonzales Energy and its owner Paunscho are treading water. Rising hurricane flood waters destroyed his files, water-logged his computers and ruined office equipment in their downtown leased offices preventing Gonzales Energy from servicing its wells, pipelines and royalty owners. As flood waters recede, Paunscho wants to know what rent relief he gets for premises so severely damaged he can’t use them. Landlord Lester “Les” Orr is trying to figure out if he can collect rent anyway and, if not, how he will make his mortgage payments. Who has the upper hand?

Continue Reading Commercial Leases Underwater from Harvey

Co-author: Skyler Stuckey

After finishing his weekly rehearsal for an upcoming Robin Hood performance at his local theatre, Wiley Enferee walked into his local Mega-Mart at his wife’s behest to buy a gallon of milk.  Not thinking, Wiley walked into the store still carrying his sword on his hip.  Wiley quickly found the milk and paid in the self-checkout line, but not before concerned shoppers notified store employees, who quickly called the police.  One store employee, Sam Aritan followed Wiley into the parking lot.  Wiley left before the police arrived, but Sam jotted down his license plate and told officers which way Wiley went.  Officers quickly found Wiley in his car, and noticed he was swerving and looking down.  The officers pulled Wiley over and placed him under arrest.  Wiley explained that the sword was just a prop and he’d forgotten to take it off.  The officers let him go but wrote him a ticket for texting while driving.  Wiley is upset that he ended up with a ticket when he was just minding his business.  Should Wiley put up a legal fight?

Continue Reading Put Down Your Phone But Keep Your Sword in Your Hand

“Big” Bob Brothers is concerned that his company, Big Brothers Security Systems, is losing out on customers because his salesmen and installation teams are slacking when they are out of the office.  Brothers reads a newspaper article about another company that is putting microchip implants containing radio-frequency identification tags (RFID) into his employees in order to make sure they aren’t doing “off the clock” stuff while on the clock.  Brothers sends a memo to employees explaining that they will all be chipped the next month, and anyone refusing to chip will be terminated.  Can Brothers “big brother” his employees like that?   

Continue Reading Can I “Chip” Away at my Employees’ Privacy?