Last week the Texas Supreme Court reversed a $1 million jury verdict in a retaliation case arising under state law. In San Antonio Water Systems v. Nichols, the court held that the former employee’s confrontation of a male executive about his repeated lunch invitations to other female coworkers occurring three years before the plaintiff’s termination could not reasonably be construed as protected activity and no reasonable person would believe that the invitations constituted actionable sexual harassment. Therefore, the retaliation claim failed as a matter of law.
There is really nothing new or novel about the court’s holding and the Nichols’ opinion does not alter or amend the state of law as it applies to retaliation claims in Texas. It should remind employers, however, that they should not necessarily concede that the actions taken by a plaintiff constitute protected activity.
You read the full opinion in SAWS v Nichols here.
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