Texas Employment Law Update

Texas Employment Law Update

A Resource for Texas Employers

Tag Archives: Title VII

Two Day Unpaid Suspension Not a Materially Adverse Action in Title VII Retaliation Case

Posted in Case Summaries, Retaliation
Retaliation cases can be more difficult for employers to defend because “revenge” is a motive easily understood and identified with.  From a purely legal standpoint, retaliation cases are also more problematic to defend because of the wider variety of employment actions that are actionable under a retaliation theory.  In discrimination claims, only ultimate employment actions (i.e., failure to hire, promote, terminate) are actionable.  In… Continue Reading

Employee Wins Reversal of Religious Discrimination Defeat at the Fifth Circuit

Posted in Case Summaries, Reasonable Accommodation, Religion
Last week I wrote about a religious discrimination case where an employer snatched victory from the jaws of defeat at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. This week, we have a Fifth Circuit opinion where the court took away an employer’s victory in another religious discrimination case and sent the case back to the trial court… Continue Reading

Distinction Between Supervisor/Nonsupervisor Makes $70,000 Difference in Religious Discrimination Case

Posted in Case Summaries, Discrimination, Religion
The status of an employee as a supervisor or nonsupervisor can have a significant impact on the outcome of a discrimination, harassment or retaliation case. For example, if an employee who commits a hostile work environment is a supervisor, the employer could be deprived of valuable legal defenses like the Faragher/Ellerth affirmative defense. A recent case from… Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Adopts “But For” Causation Standard for Title VII Retaliation Cases

Posted in Case Summaries, Retaliation
In a case appealed from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a plaintiff in a Title VII retaliation case may prevail only when he shows that he would not have suffered an adverse employment action “but for” his engaging in protected activity. In the first retaliation case in several years… Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court Adopts Objective Test for Determining Title VII Supervisor Status

Posted in Case Summaries, Harassment
The U.S. Supreme Court adopted an objective test for determining an employee’s Title VII “supervisory status” in Vance v. Ball State University. The question in Vance was what level of authority must an individual have to qualify as a “supervisor” for purposes of Title VII vicarious liability. This is an important issue because the employee’s status often… Continue Reading

Fifth Circuit Holds that Volunteer Firefighter is not an “Employee” for Purposes of Title VII

Posted in Case Summaries, Disability, Discrimination, Harassment, Retaliation
In an issue of first impression in this Fifth Circuit, the Court held that a volunteer firefighter making a Title VII claim of sexual harassment is not an “employee” for purposes of the statute and therefore had no legal claim. The case arose from a suit filed by a former firefighter for the Livingston Parish… Continue Reading

Fifth Circuit Holds That Attorney’s Fees Not Recoverable In Title VII Mixed-Motive Retaliation Case

Posted in Case Summaries, Retaliation
In a recent case from the Fifth Circuit, the Court held that attorney’s fees are not recoverable for a prevailing plaintiff in a Title VII mixed-motive retaliation case. In Carter v. Luminant Power Serv. Co., the plaintiff employee brought a Title VII discrimination and retaliation claim alleging that he was disciplined for his complaints of racial… Continue Reading

Quick Cites for Common Evidentiary Issues in Discrimination, Retaliation and Harassment Cases

Posted in News & Commentary
Yesterday I had the privilege to serve on a panel discussion of employment defense attorneys covering Title VII Litigation: Persistent Evidentiary Challenges.  We had lawyers from twenty-two states registered for the program.  If you have an evidentiary question involving a discrimination, retaliation or harassment claim, these materials may provide you a head start on your research or… Continue Reading

Court Holds Ministerial Exception Bars Teacher’s Discrimination Suit

Posted in Case Summaries, Discrimination
Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimouslyy held that the ministerial exception bars a federal employment discrimination suit brought by a teacher challenging her church-employer’s decision to terminate her employment.  While this holding is limited to religious affiliated employers, it firmly establishes the ministerial exception as a bar to certain employment discrimination claims against religious organizations. Plaintiff… Continue Reading

Plaintiff-Employee’s Case Dismissed for Giving Differing Reasons for Leaving Employment

Posted in Case Summaries
In reading a recent Fifth Circuit opinion affirming the dismissal of a employee’s claim of racial harassment involving the display of a noose, I am reminded of Mark Twain’s quote, "If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything."  Its good advice to live by and even better advice for deponents and witnesses. Nickey… Continue Reading

Does Title VII Protect Followers of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

Posted in Human Resources, News & Commentary, Reasonable Accommodation, Religion
Imagine this, its Friday and you are sitting in your office as Director of Verizon’s newly created Office of Reasonable Accommodation.  An employee, I’ll call him Joe, walks into your office.  Joe tells you he’s recently converted to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (i.e., he is now a Pastafarian); that Friday’s are his religion’s holiday;… Continue Reading

Fifth Circuit Holds Title VII Damage Caps Apply “Per Party” Not “Per Claim”

Posted in Case Summaries, Discrimination, Harassment, Retaliation
In an issue of first impression in the Fifth Circuit, the U.S. Court of Appeals holds that Title VII’s damages cap apply on a "per party" basis rather than on "per claim."  In Black v. Pan American, the Plaintiff, Carleen Black, prevailed on her Title VII and TCHRA claims of sex discrimination and retaliation.  The… Continue Reading

Fifth Circuit Holds Loss of Consortium Damages Unavailable To Spouse of Successful Title VII Plaintiff

Posted in Case Summaries, Discrimination, Harassment, Retaliation
The Fifth Circuit held today that a spouse of a successful Title VII plaintiff cannot maintain a legal claim for loss of consortium (i.e., loss of spousal services) under state and federal law.  In Barker, Tracey Barker was a civilian worker employed by Halliburton (aka KBR).  She claimed she was subjected to sexual harassment, retaliation and various… 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

U.S. Supreme Court Reverses Disparate Impact Win for Employer

Posted in Case Summaries, Discrimination
The U.S. Supreme Court reversed and remanded a win the City of Chicago obtained against an African-American class of firefighter applicants seeking positions with the City.  In Lewis v. City of Chicago, a group of firefighter applicants filed a lawsuit against the City challenging the City’s 1996 decision that it would only consider those applicants who scored "well-qualified" on the… Continue Reading