Texas Employment Law Update

Texas Employment Law Update

A Resource for Texas Employers

Category Archives: Judicial Updates

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U.S. Supreme Court Wrap-up of Employment Law Cases 2014-15 Term

Posted in Discrimination, Judicial Updates, Reasonable Accommodation, Religion
This past term saw the Supreme Court issue four opinions in labor and employment cases.  In case you missed them, the following is a brief summary of the holdings from those cases. EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Holding that Title VII’s prohibition against refusing to hire an applicant to avoid accommodating a religious practice that could be accommodated without… Continue Reading

2011-2012 Term U.S. Supreme Court Wrap-Up of Employment Cases

Posted in Age, Case Summaries, Discrimination, Judicial Updates, Labor-Management Relations
Last week the U.S. Supreme Court ended its 2011-12 Term.  Here are summaries of the labor and employment cases decided this term. Hosanna-Taylor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, (No. 10-553) (holding that teacher at religious school qualified as a "minister" within the meaning of the ministerial exception to Title VII and therefore First… Continue Reading

Texas Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Age Discrimination Case

Posted in Age, Discrimination, Judicial Updates
Last week the Supreme Court of Texas granted a Petition for Review to hear the case of Mission Independent School District v. Garcia.  While the petition for review has three issues (issue four was not challenged by the respondent), only one is relevant to private employers.  The school district argues for a bright line rule that if the… Continue Reading

Supreme Court of Texas Hears Oral Argument in Two Employment Cases

Posted in Judicial Updates, News & Commentary
Yesterday, the Supreme Court of Texas heard oral argument in two employment cases. In El Apple I, Ltd. v. Olivas, (No. 10-0490), the Court is considering whether detailed lodestar attorney fee calculation is required with breakdowns for each specific task.  Also under consideration is whether appellate fees should be calculated in advance or only upon remand… Continue Reading

Employment Cases Scheduled for the 2011-12 Supreme Court Term

Posted in Judicial Updates
Pre-game preparations are underway for the first Monday in October when the U.S. Supreme Court will commence its 2011-12 Term.  Here are the employment-related cases that are expected to be decided this Term. Hosanna-Tabor Church v. EEOC (10-553)  To decide whether the ministerial exception, which prohibits most employment-related lawsuits against religious organizations by employees performing… Continue Reading

Wal-Mart v. Dukes Not Evidence of High Court Pro-Business Slant

Posted in Case Summaries, Human Resources, Judicial Updates, Retaliation
I keep reading reports that Wal-Mart v. Dukes, where the Court reversed a class certification including 1.5 million women (who worked all over the U.S. under different supervisors at different stores) that was based on the company giving supervisors too much discretion, 125 anecdotal stories and an expert report employing dubious social framework analysis, demonstrates that the Court has a… Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Wrap-Up: 2010-11 Term

Posted in Judicial Updates
The U.S. Supreme Court has issued the last of its employment-related decisions for the 2010-11 Term.  Here is a brief summary of the labor and employment cases decided this term. Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., (No. 09-834) (holding that an employee has engaged in protected activity under the FLSA even if his only complaint is an oral… Continue Reading

Dallas Court of Appeals Rejects Wrongful Termination Claim for Voting in Election

Posted in Case Summaries, Judicial Updates
Earlier this week the Dallas Court of Appeals rejected an employee’s attempt to create a new wrongful termination cause of action.  In Martin v. Clinical Pathology Lab., Joyce Martin sued her employer for terminating her employment after she requested time off to vote in the November 2008 General Election.  According to her petition, Martin alleged… Continue Reading

Texas Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Dispute over Employment Agreement to Waive Jury Trial of Disputes

Posted in Judicial Updates, Jury Waivers
The Supreme Court of Texas has agreed to hear the case of In re Frank Kent Motor Co. d/b/a Frank Kent Cadillac, No. 10-0687.  In that case, the Fort Worth Court of Appeals denied the employer’s application for writ of mandamus and refused to overrule the trial court’s decision not to enforce/honor an agreement between the employer and… Continue Reading

Supreme Court Blesses Cat’s Paw Theory of Discrimination

Posted in Case Summaries, Discrimination, Judicial Updates, Retaliation
The U.S. Supreme Court recently considered the circumstances when an employer may be liable for employment discrimination based on the unlawful, discriminatory animus of an employee who influenced, but did not make, an ultimate employment decision.   This theory is commonly referred to as the Cat’s Paw theory derived from fable about the monkey who convinces the cat… Continue Reading

Fort Worth Court of Appeals Enforces Mutual Waiver of Jury Trial

Posted in Case Summaries, Discrimination, Human Resources, Judicial Updates, Jury Waivers
I’ve written several posts advocating the advantages of employer’s use of waivers of jury trials to resolve employment disputes with employees.  (See posts here and here).  To recap, the mutual waiver of jury trial provides the employer and employee a fair way to resolve employment disputes without some of the disadvantages that other forms of alternative… Continue Reading

Supreme Court of Texas Agrees to Hear Two Employment Cases

Posted in Case Summaries, Discrimination, Judicial Updates
The Supreme Court of Texas has agreed to hear argument in two employment cases.  In Prairie View A&M University v. Diljit K. Chatha, (No. 10-353) the Court agreed to consider whether the 180-day statute of limitations for a government employee’s complaint about discriminatory pay begins from the date of the first paycheck reflecting the decision or the (earlier) date on… Continue Reading

Supreme Court Recognizes Third-Party Retaliation Claims under Title VII

Posted in Case Summaries, Discrimination, Judicial Updates, Retaliation
The U.S. Supreme Court announced that employees, who never engaged in protected activity, can bring third-party retaliation claims against their employers when they suffer an adverse employment action due to their connection with a person who has engaged in protected activity. The facts of Thompson v. North American Stainless are straightforward.  In February 2003 North American Stainless was advised… Continue Reading

Dallas Court Vacates Arbitration Award in Discrimination Case Because of Arbitrator’s Failure to Disclose Prior Contacts with Party Representative

Posted in Arbitration, Case Summaries, Discrimination, Judicial Updates
It is pretty difficult for a party to get an adverse arbitration award reversed or vacated.  A recent Dallas Court of Appeals decision shows the rare instance were such a reversal occurred.  In Alim v. KBR (Kellogg, Brown & Root) –Halliburton, the Dallas court held that an arbitrator’s failure to disclose, in an employment discrimination, breach of contract… Continue Reading

Fifth Circuit Holds that FLSA Action Is Improper Forum for Employer to Seek Set-Off Against Wage and Overtime Claims

Posted in Case Summaries, Judicial Updates, Wage & Hour
Employers often consider asserting counterclaims against employees who file lawsuits against them.  Most lawyers representing employers counsel against filing counterclaims except in exceptional cases (e.g., an employee’s theft of trade secrets or breach of a covenant not to compete). However, where an employer pays an employee valuable severance benefits in return for a release or a… Continue Reading

Texas Court Holds Lilly Ledbetter Principles Inapplicable to Claims Arising Under State Law

Posted in Case Summaries, Discrimination, Judicial Updates
The Fort Worth Court of Appeals ruled that the provisions of the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 extending the charge filing deadlines for certain pay discrimination claims should not be automatically applied to pay discrimination claims arising under state law. In Tarrant Regional Water District v. Villanueva, Tamara Villanueva brought suit against the the District… Continue Reading

Texas Supreme Court Holds Employers May Be Held Liable for Unilateral Contracts Created with At-will Employees

Posted in Judicial Updates
The Texas Supreme Court held that unilateral contracts can be formed with at-will employees when employers make promises to employees and those employees perform based on that promise.  In Vanegas v. American Energy Services, Inc. the Supreme Court was asked to decide the enforceability of an employer’s alleged promise to pay five percent of the proceeds of… Continue Reading

New Jury Verdict Research Indicates Employers Faring Worse in Jury Trials

Posted in Human Resources, Judicial Updates
Manpower has published its most recent research on jury verdicts and the news is not good for employers.  According to a summary of the full report: Employers won the lowest percentage of discrimination jury trials this decade; only 39 percent.  Employers won on 33 percent of age cases and 52 percent of disability discrimination cases.  Expect employer’s winning… Continue Reading

2008 Term U.S. Supreme Court Wrap-up

Posted in Age, Arbitration, Discrimination, Judicial Updates, Labor-Management Relations
The U.S. Supreme Court completed its 2008-09 term. On the docket were five cases of interest dealing with employment law.  Here is a summary of the holdings in those cases. Crawford v. Metropolitan Gov’t of Nashville and Davidson County, Tenn., (2009) An employee’s participation in an employer’s internal harassment investigation by responding to the employer’s questions may constitute protected oppositional activity under Title VII that… Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Holds City Discriminated Against White Connecticut Firefighters

Posted in Discrimination, Judicial Updates
In one of the most anticipated employment discrimination cases in years, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the City of New Haven discriminated against non-minority firefighters when it chose to ignore the test results of a racially-neutral promotional exam because too few minorities scored high enough on the test to be considered for promotion.  I previously wrote about this case and outlined… Continue Reading

Significant Win for Employers at the High Court: Age Discrimination Plaintiffs Face Higher Burden of Proof

Posted in Age, Discrimination, Judicial Updates
In Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc., the U.S. Supreme Court was asked to decide whether a plaintiff must present direct evidence of discrimination in order to obtain a mixed-motive instruction in a non-Title VII discrimination case. In the case, Plaintiff Gross was employed by FBL Financial Group since 1971. In 2001 he held the title… Continue Reading