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2021 Update: COVID-19 OSHA Safety Guidance for Employers

On January 29, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued new guidance for employers on mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. The OSH Act requires employers to provide “a safe and healthy workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious harm.” The guidance is intended to help employers identify COVID-19 exposure...
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Caselaw Update: Lease Maintenance in Texas

In BP America Production Co. v. Red Deer Resources, LLC, the Texas Supreme Court considered the establishment of production in paying quantities in relation to the shut-in royalty provision of a lease. The lease in question was owned by BP and contained a habendum clause providing that it would remain in effect so long as oil or gas was...
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Caselaw Update: Unpaid Leave in Texas

A recent appellate case out of Austin addressed whether unpaid employee leave may qualify as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA, and whether an employee who makes such a request is protected from retaliation under Chapter 21 of the Texas Labor Code.   In Texas Dep’t of Transp. V. Lara, an employee (Lara) sued his former employer (the Texas Department of...
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Can an Exchange of Emails Form a Binding Contract?

Email communication has long been common in the modern business world.  However, with the Covid-19 pandemic sending more people to work from home, contracts and other business agreements are being formed across informal channels more than ever.    Contracts are legally formed once the following elements are met: there must be an offer and acceptance, the parties must intend to create the relationship,...
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Telecommuting Employees and COVID-19: Part 3

Americans with Disabilities Act In the third and final installment of our telecommuting series, we will discuss the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and its application to telecommuting before and after the COVID-19 pandemic.  The ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities across several areas, including employment. The ADA protects individuals with a disability, which the act defines as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits...
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Telecommuting Employees and COVID-19: Part 2

The Fair Labor Standards Act In the second installment of “Telecommuting Employees and COVID-19,” we consider the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and its application to telecommuting employees: who it protects; what it requires of employers; and how employers can avoid violations as an increasing number of employees are working remotely in the face of a global pandemic.   The FLSA governs...
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Telecommuting Employees and COVID-19: Part 1

Independent Contractors v. Employees In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, a large percentage of the U.S. workforce began to work from home and continue to do so. This three-part blog series will address common issues employers face as many workers continue to telecommute, and more organizations consider the long-term benefits of allowing employees to work remotely. Telecommuting presents employers with unique compliance issues...
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The Potential Impact of McGirt v Oklahoma on Oil and Gas Operations

In McGirt v. Oklahoma, (1) the United States Supreme Court ruled that a large portion of eastern Oklahoma is included in the Creek Nation Reservation. Therefore, this land is subject to tribal or federal criminal law instead of Oklahoma state law, even though most of it is now owned by non-tribe members.  The federal government conveyed the reservation to the Creek tribe with the promise that  the lands would “never be embraced or included within, or annexed to,...
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Understanding Adverse Possession: Part Four

In our final installment of “Understanding Adverse Possession” we examine how the existence of a co-tenancy can affect a claim of adverse possession: is it possible for one cotenant to gain ownership through adverse possession against another cotenant?  A co-tenancy exists when two or more parties concurrently own interests in the same property, as in joint ownership or a landlord/tenant relationship. This type of...
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