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Arbitration, as an alternative to traditional litigation, is becoming increasingly popular in many different types of conflicts, including disputes between Dallas employers and their employees. While arbitration offers many advantages – flexibility, speed, efficiency, confidentiality, and finality, to name a few – arbitration must be voluntary in order to be enforceable.

Parties may give their consent to arbitration either before or after a conflict arises. In some situations, the parties sign a contract at the beginning of their relationship, agreeing that any disputes between them later on will be arbitrated rather than litigated in the court system.

The burden of proof in a case in which one party seeks to compel arbitration and the other resists it is on the party who wants to arbitrate rather than litigate.

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Claims involving allegations of Texas employment discrimination can be very complicated when it comes to procedural matters. This is true for both the plaintiff and the defendant. If certain documents are not filed in a timely fashion, the consequences can be very costly. A plaintiff employee who does not file his or her claim within the time allowed by law may forfeit the right to sue. A defendant employer who does not file a timely answer can have a sizable judgment entered against it without having an opportunity to defend itself.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a case recently under consideration by the Court of Appeals for the Eighth District of Texas was a woman who filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against the defendant employer in February 2017. When the plaintiff’s lawsuit was filed, the clerk’s office issued a citation reflecting service by certified mail on the defendant’s registered agent for service of process. Process was served by a private process server, and, according to the process server, delivery was made on March 8, 2017. This was evidenced by the “green card” from the postal service, which the plaintiff filed with the court.

Because the defendant did not file an answer to the plaintiff’s complaint, the plaintiff moved for a default judgment. The trial court granted a default judgment to the plaintiff on the issue of liability in June 2017. In July 2017, a prove-up hearing was held on the issue of damages. Thereafter, the trial court entered a final judgment in the plaintiff’s favor in the amount of $423,460. The court clerk notified the defendant of the judgment by mailing a copy of the court’s order to the defendant’s registered agent for service of process. More than 90 days later, the defendant finally appeared in the case, seeking a new trial. The trial court concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to hear the motion because it was filed outside the extended filing window of Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 306a(4).

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A Dallas retaliatory discharge claim can arise under many different sets of circumstances. In some of these cases, the employee asserts that he or she was retaliated against for complaining about a coworker’s sexual harassment or about being passed over for a promotion due to race, age, or gender.

A retaliatory discharge case can also be the result of an employee’s termination following a whistleblower lawsuit or similar claim.

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Typically, when an employee is hurt on the job, he or she is limited to the benefits available under workers’ compensation law. In some situations, however, such as when multiple contractors and subcontractors are present on a job site, it may be possible for the injured employee to file a negligence action against a third party. This, in turn, may trigger a subrogation claim by the workers’ compensation insurance company that paid out benefits to the injured worker.

The resolution of these issues can be a complex undertaking involving, among other things, an inquiry into whether Texas or federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules were violated, contributing to the injury to the employee.

Facts of the Case

In a recent Texas appellate court case, the plaintiff was a 25-year-old man who suffered massive trauma, including a severe brain injury, damage to his spinal cord, and several fractures, while working at a construction site in El Paso. He filed a workers’ compensation claim and received about $1.8 million from the insurance carrier of the prime contractor at the job site. The worker then filed suit against the temporary staffing agency, through which he worked for an allegedly negligent subcontractor, and obtained a $6.1 million jury verdict. The prime contractor’s insurance carrier then sought reimbursement of the monies it had paid out in the workers’ compensation case.

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When it comes to hiring and retaining quality employees, the competition can be fierce. Long gone are the days when a potential employee checked the newspaper or local employment service for job openings. Nowadays, most individuals who are looking for work begin their job search online.

Immediate access to virtually every job available in a particular city gives job applicants plenty of choices, often requiring them to narrow down their search to just a few openings. Thus, a Dallas employer who is defamed or whose business is disparaged online could be at a substantial disadvantage when it comes to finding potential employment candidates.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a case recently considered by the Supreme Court of Texas was a Dallas business that sought to depose representatives of the defendant jobs/recruiting website operator regarding the identity of certain individuals (who identified themselves as former or current employees of the plaintiff) whom the plaintiff alleged had posted negative statements about it online between July 2014 and June 2015. As grounds, the plaintiff contended that it wished to investigate potential defamation and business disparagement claims against the individuals who had posted the unfavorable information about it anonymously on the defendant’s website.

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There are a seemingly endless array of situations that can lead to a Dallas employment discrimination lawsuit, some of which have merit but many of which do not. There are, after all, many legitimate reasons why an employee may be fired or the subject of an adverse employment decision.

Most people would probably agree that appropriating an employer’s property for one’s personal use would fall into the “legitimate reason to fire” category, but a worker terminated by the Texas Department of Transportation filed a lawsuit complaining that, although she did violate the department’s policy by taking state property, she was the victim of sex discrimination because male coworkers who did something similar were not fired.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was an employee of the defendant transportation department for some 10 years before she was terminated in 2010. She filed suit against the department and her former supervisor, alleging that she had been unlawfully discharged based on her sex. The department maintained that the plaintiff had been fired for removing scrap metal and other materials from the trash for her personal use. According to the plaintiff, two male employees engaged in similar conduct but were not fired.

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Sexual harassment and discrimination claims are all too common these days – so common, in fact, that it would seem like such cases should fall more in the “old news” category than in the “breaking news story” category. However, some Texas sexual harassment cases are still making the news, especially if a public figure is involved or if the details are such that the media believes the public would be particularly interested.

In such situations, an issue may arise as to what – if any – information an investigative reporter (or anyone else for that matter) is entitled to know. With regard to public employers (such as schools and universities), it may take a court’s assistance in order to determine what information must be revealed – and which must be kept away from public consumption.

Facts of the Case

A recent appellate court case involved a dispute between an independent school district and the Texas Attorney General’s office. The case arose as a result of a disagreement regarding whether the school district had to release a certain document (which included, among other things, information regarding complaints of workplace harassment, alleged acts of discrimination, romantic affairs between district employees, and investigations conducted by child protective services). The information had been requested by a news reporter under the Texas Public Information Act.

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One of the most common issues in a Dallas employment discrimination lawsuit is whether the reasons for the defendant employer’s adverse employment action (such as termination, demotion, or failure to promote) were legitimate or pretextual.

In deciding whether the employer violated the law in its actions towards the complaining employee, there are many factors which may come into play. Ultimately, however, each case rests on its own facts.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case heard by the Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas at Dallas, the plaintiff was a man who worked for the defendant city for some 17 years before being discharged. According to the plaintiff’s suit, he was passed over for several promotions and eventually discharged from his employment in 2015. In response to the plaintiff’s allegations that the defendant had harassed him, discriminated against him, and retaliated against him due to his age, gender, race, and national origin, the defendant filed a plea to the jurisdiction of the trial court, challenging the existence of jurisdictional facts.

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Matters of timeliness are very important in a Dallas employment discrimination lawsuit. If a would-be litigant does not act with due punctuality in seeking legal redress, it is very possible that his or her claim may be dismissed. This is true even if the underlying claim would otherwise be successful.

Facts of the Case

In a recent Texas appellate case, the plaintiff was a former administrative assistant at the defendant university medical center. After allegedly having been harassed and discriminated against due to her status as a breastfeeding mother, the plaintiff was officially terminated from her employment on April 19, 2016. She filed a charge of discrimination complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on October 11, 2016, less than 180 days following receipt of the termination letter from the defendant. After receiving a right-to-sue letter from the TWC, the plaintiff filed a sex discrimination and retaliation lawsuit under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act.

The defendant filed a plea to the jurisdiction of the trial court, arguing that the plaintiff’s lawsuit was barred by sovereign immunity because of her failure to exhaust her administrative remedies in a timely fashion. According to the defendant’s view of the case, the 180-day period for seeking administrative relief began running on March 14, 2016, the date upon which it notified the plaintiff of its intent to terminate her employment, rather than on the date of her actual termination. The trial disagreed and denied the relief sought by the defendant.

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While it is wrongful under certain state and federal laws to engage in discrimination against a person who is disabled, not every Dallas disability discrimination lawsuit against a disabled person’s employer is well-founded. In some cases, the employer may have a legitimate, non-disability-related reason for the termination (or other adverse employment action). If the employee disagrees, it is up to the court to decide which party has made the more convincing case as to the “real” reason for the firing.

Facts of the Case

In a case recently considered by the Court of Appeals for the Thirteenth District of Texas, the plaintiff was a teacher who was terminated at the end of his first year of teaching. He filed suit against the defendant school district, alleging that it had wrongfully terminated him due to a disability that he suffered after having a stroke about mid-way through the school year. (Previously, the plaintiff had filed a timely charge of discrimination with the Texas Workforce Commission Civil Rights Division, which granted him a right-to-sue letter.)

The defendant filed a plea to the jurisdiction of the trial court, which the trial court denied. The defendant appealed.

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