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Introducing Employment Law Expert Vianei Lopez Braun [VIDEO]

Part of our mission at Construction Citizen is to offer construction executives up-to-date information about best practices and how to be in compliance with the laws and regulations that are constantly being updated.  That's why we're excited to announce that Employment Law Attorney Vianei Lopez Braun will be joining us to offer monthly updates on what's happening with employment law.  In addition to her status as a partner at Buck Keenan, LLP in Houston, Braun is also a regular speaker at Texas Business Conferences around the state.

I caught up with her at the Texas Business Conference in Abilene, where she talked about a wide variety of changes and updates in employment law that business owners and their HR directors need to know about.

Among other things, she talked about how the Obama administration has been far more aggressive in dealing with employers than the Bush administration ever was.  She said there's a different “feel” to how regulatory agencies handle their interactions with business.  Braun made that point without a hint of partisanship.  Her objective analysis of the stalemate in Washington points out this fact: much of what might usually be done through legislation is now being done by regulators exercising as much authority as they can, in some cases, to crack down on certain activities.  “In this case they're not going to get much through Congress,” she said. “In the employment law world, you're seeing regulatory initiatives.”

In her speech, she said the frequency with which the government is checking immigration status of employees has been increasing.  She said you had better have your ducks in a row for the day the paperwork arrives in the mail that says the government wants to look at your I-9s. “It's very important that whoever does your I-9s understands what the requirements are, and does them right on the front end,” she said.  “That is happening more often.”

Braun also spoke to the employers’ need to deal with people who might be a problem on construction jobsites.  She pointed to a recent case in which a construction foreman was referred to as a “world class trash talker” because of his treatment of employees.  The company was sued, and even though they eventually prevailed in court, Braun said the firm's legal fees had grown to about a half-million dollars.  For that reason, she said it is simply smarter to have policies in place dealing with “trash talkers” from the get-go.

After her speech, I sat down for a few minutes with Braun to talk about some of the issues she raised, and to welcome her to the Construction Citizen team.  You can listen to that interview in the 5½ minute video below.

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