It is a testament to the diversified, generally pro-business Texas economy that the state has weathered recent national and international economic turmoil so well. Even with a volatile energy market and with oil prices significantly depressed, the Texas economy thrives, certainly relative to national trends. This explains, at least in part, why a number of companies have relocated to Texas in recent years.
Those companies relocating to Texas, as well as other employers operating here, should keep in mind that they owe their employees some basic, fundamental duties. This is more than the much-reported obligations not to discriminate, harass or retaliate. As the Texas Supreme Court explained forty years ago, Texas employers owe certain continuous, nondelegable duties to their employees. Farley v. M.M. Cattle Co., 529 S.W.2d 512 (Tex. 1975). Specifically, employers in Texas have, among other things, the duty to:
- Furnish a reasonably safe place to work
- Warn employees of hazards of their employment that are not commonly known or appreciated
- Supervise employees’ activities
- Hire competent co-employees
- Furnish reasonably safe instrumentalities with which to work
- Provide safety regulations
- Train employees in the safe use and handling of products and equipment used in and around the employer’s premises
Central Ready Mix Concrete Co. v. Islas, 228 S.W.2d 649 (Tex. 2007). And employers must exercise ordinary care in carrying out these duties. Failure to do so can lead to time-consuming and costly litigation.
It is important for employers doing business in Texas to be aware of their duties to their employers (and others). A reasoned, proactive approach to satisfying these duties and managing risk exposure may ultimately save money, minimize liability, and better allow the company to achieve its business goals.