Texas Employment Law Update

Texas Employment Law Update

A Resource for Texas Employers

Tag Archives: Supreme Court of Texas

Texas Supreme Court Holds Defendant Attorney Fee Data Not Normally Discoverable

Posted in Case Summaries
In many employment disputes, the recovery of reasonable attorney’s fees is an element a prevailing plaintiff-employee can recover. Some plaintiffs attempt to show the reasonableness of their counsel’s rates and fees by comparing it to the rates and amounts billed by the employer’s counsel. In In re National Lloyds Ins. Co., et al., the Texas… Continue Reading

Texas Supreme Court Rejects Compelled Self-Publication Theory in Defamation Case

Posted in Case Summaries
An element of a defamation claim is that the defamatory statement was published to a third party. Plaintiff-employees sometimes attempt to satisfy this element by arguing that, while the former employer never published any defamatory statements about the employee to a third party, the employee is compelled to self-disclose the reasons for his or her… Continue Reading

Texas Whistleblower Act Does Not Cover Purely Internal Reports of Violations of Law Says Texas Supreme Court

Posted in Case Summaries
Texas law only recognizes a whistleblowing cause of action for public employees that, in good faith, report violations of law to an appropriate law enforcement authority. In two cases reported last month, the Supreme Court of Texas clarified that internal reports of violations of law, even if made in good faith, to officials having purely internal… Continue Reading

A Broken Clock is Right Twice Per Day: Supreme Court of Texas Holds Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act Does Not Apply to Claims under State Law

Posted in Case Summaries, Discrimination, Wage & Hour
I wrote back in April 2010 that I thought the Houston Court of Appeals decision in Prarie View A&M v. Chatha applying the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (“Ledbetter Act”) to claims arising under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act (TCHRA) was wrongly decided. Last month the Supreme Court of Texas agreed with me… Continue Reading

Texas State Law Age Discrimination Claim Fails Where Employee’s Replacement is Older

Posted in Age, Case Summaries, Discrimination
The Texas Supreme Court held that an age discrimination plaintiff is never entitled to an inference of age discrimination at the prima facie case where the employee’s replacement is older than plaintiff-employee. In that situation, the plaintiff must establish a prima facie case through direct evidence of age discrimination. Gloria Garcia (age 48) was terminated… Continue Reading

Employment Lawyers Must Document Their Efforts to Recover Attorney’s Fees under Texas Commission on Human Rights Act

Posted in Case Summaries, Discrimination, Harassment, Retaliation
Prevailing plaintiffs in employment discrimination, harassment and retaliation cases can recover attorney’s fees their attorney’s incur in prosecuting those claims.  In many instances the attorney’s fees sought can exceed the monetary relief the plaintiff obtains and can act as a serious impediment to prompt settlement.  Since most of these cases are done on a contingency… Continue Reading

Supreme Court of Texas Confirms Availability of Punitive Damages in Public Policy Discharge Cases

Posted in Case Summaries
Texas is an at-will employment state where employees and employers are free to end the employment relationship at any time and almost for any reason.  The Texas Supreme Court has created a single public policy exception to the at-will employment rule –the Sabine Pilot wrongful discharge claim.  Under that judicially created claim, an employee has a… Continue Reading

Supreme Court of Texas Rejects At-Will Employee’s Argument that Agreement to Waive Jury Trial was Coerced

Posted in Case Summaries, Jury Waivers
The Texas Supreme Court issued an opinion this morning holding that advising an at-will employee that his employment will be terminated if he does not sign a mutual waiver to resolve disputes without a jury is not unlawful coercion sufficient to sset aside the agreement.  If you read this blog frequently, you know I am a big proponent… Continue Reading

Texas Supreme Court Holds Worker’s Compensation Exclusivity Provision Bars Claims by Deceased Employee’s Parents

Posted in Case Summaries, Workers' Compensation
Today the Texas Supreme Court held that when an employee is employed by two employers (a staff leasing company and client company in this case) and both employers have workers’ compensation insurance, the workers’ compensation exclusivity provisions apply to bar negligence claims asserted by the deceased employee’s parents. You can review a copy of the… 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

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

Texas Supreme Court Holds that Arbitration Agreements Governed by State Law May Include Avenues for Appellate Review

Posted in Arbitration, Case Summaries
I have written some of the disadvantages of arbitration over other procedural methods of resolving cases such as waivers of jury trial.  (See post and post).  However, in an opinion from the Supreme Court of Texas, one disadvantage of arbitration (i.e., the limited appellate review of arbitration awards that is available) can be minimized where the… 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

Texas Supreme Court to Consider Validity of Arbitration Agreement in Employee Handbooks

Posted in Arbitration
Don Cruse at the Supreme Court of Texas Blog, wrote about the first case of the new term on which the Supreme Court of Texas requested full briefing —Hatton v. D.R. Horton, Inc.  that case involves an issue of significant importance to Texas employers.  According to Don, this case concerns the enforceability of arbitration clauses in employee handbooks. In… Continue Reading

Texas Supreme Court Holds State Agencies Immune from FMLA Self-Care Lawsuits

Posted in Case Summaries, Discrimination, Leave of Absence
In its first FMLA opinion, the Texas Supreme Court held that agencies of the State of Texas cannot be sued for FMLA violations arising out of an employee’s FMLA leave taken for his own serious health condition.   In University of Texas at El Paso v. Herrera, the Supreme Court of Texas held that, unlike the family care provisions of the… Continue Reading

Supreme Court of Texas Directs Trial Court to Vacate Order and Send Case to Arbitration

Posted in Arbitration, Case Summaries
Texas courts routinely enforce arbitration agreements between employers and their employees. In most parts of the state, lawyers representing employees agree to go to arbitration upon being presented with a copy of an arbitration agreement signed by the plaintiff-employee. On occasion, however, there are disputes over the enforceability of an arbitration agreement. The Supreme Court… Continue Reading

Supreme Court of Texas Grants Review in Stock-Options Noncompete Case

Posted in Noncompetes and Restrictive Covenants
Last summer, I detailed the Dallas Court of Appeals’ decision in Marsh USA, Inc. v. Cook where the court held a noncompetition agreement supported only by stock-options as consideration was unenforceable.  You can read that post here. Today, the Supreme Court of Texas announced that it would hear the appeal from the Dallas Court of Appeals.  You can view the order… 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

Supreme Court of Texas Compels Arbitration of Discrimination and Retaliation Claims

Posted in Arbitration
Texas courts strongly favor the resolution of disputes through arbitration. When parties to a dispute have signed an agreement to arbitrate covered disputes, Texas courts will rarely disregard that agreement.   A recent per curiam opinion of the Supreme Court of Texas continues that trend by conditionally granting mandamus relief in a case alleging national origin discrimination… Continue Reading

Covenants Not to Compete that Contain Implicit Promises to Provide Confidential Information are Enforceable

Posted in Noncompetes and Restrictive Covenants
On April 17, 2009, the Supreme Court of Texas continued its trend of finding ways to enforce covenants not to compete in the employment context.   In Mann Frankfort Stein  & Lipp Advisors, Inc. v. Fielding, the Court considered "whether a covenant not to compete in an at-will employment agreement is enforceable when the employee expressly promises… Continue Reading