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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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In most Dallas sexual harassment cases, the parties are both of age – that is, above the age of 18. Sometimes, however, the complaining party is underage, leading to additional complications.

Such was the case recently, when a mother brought suit on behalf of her minor daughter, who had allegedly been involved in a relationship with her older, married supervisor at work. At trial, the jury had been allowed to hear only limited testimony about the girl’s willing participation in the affair.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recent appellate court case was the mother and next friend of a girl who was the victim of multiple criminal acts committed upon her by her workplace supervisor when she was 16 years old.  According to the plaintiff, the relationship between the girl and her supervisor began when he “bumped into her breasts” (an action for which he apologized) but escalated into a relationship that involved at least 40 instances of unprotected sexual intercourse. Although the actions were not forcible, they were nevertheless illegal owing to the victim’s minority.

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It is not unusual for a Dallas employment law matter that should, by rights, involve only a single issue to grow into a multi-faceted “shotgun” approach (colloquially speaking) lawsuit that adds unnecessary claims, complications, and expenses to what should be a fairly simple matter to resolve. A recent case that began as a whistleblower claim but grew to include several other allegations is illustrative. Fortunately for the employer, the appellate court eventually dismissed not only the add-on claims but the original one, as well.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recent case filed in Jefferson County, Texas, was a county jail employee who filed suit against the defendant county, asserting a claim as an alleged whistleblower. According to the plaintiff, she was demoted when she should have been promoted, in retaliation for refusal to cooperate with an internal affairs investigation of a co-worker who purportedly had a sexual encounter with an inmate at the jail.

When the plaintiff originally filed her lawsuit in September 2015, she only claimed that the defendant’s conduct was in violation of the Texas Whistleblower Act, but she later amended her pleadings to include an employment discrimination claim under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act. She also alleged that the defendant had violated a collective bargaining agreement to which it was a party and that the plaintiff’s rights under the Texas Constitution had been violated.

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Arbitration agreements have become increasingly popular over the past several years. In the case of arbitration agreements pertaining to employment law issues, such as a Dallas employment discrimination claim, an arbitration agreement is much more likely to have been drafted by the employer (or its legal representatives) than by the employee.

Thus, an employee may have the belief that arbitration will unfairly favor the employer and that the employee would be “better off” to go to trial rather than have his or her claims decided by an arbitrator. In such a situation, the employee may seek to avoid the terms of an arbitration contract if at all possible.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the real party in interest was the plaintiff in a lawsuit accusing the defendant employer of employment discrimination and retaliation in violation of the Texas Labor Code. The defendant sought to compel arbitration of the plaintiff’s claim, relying on an arbitration agreement that was allegedly electronically signed by the plaintiff. The defendant’s human resource generalist signed an affidavit supporting the defendant’s motion, attaching the arbitration agreement and related documents.

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There are many different types of Dallas wage and hour disputes that can arise between employers and employees. In addition to federal laws, there is a Texas Minimum Wage Act with its own set of rules and regulations. In some instances, a particular city may also have an ordinance that purports to put further requirements in place. For example, one particular Texas city enacted an ordinance earlier this year that aims to require private employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees. The legality of this law was recently questioned in an appellate case.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the Texas Court of Appeals for the Third District at Austin was called upon to consider a challenge to the defendant city’s brand new paid-sick-leave ordinance, which the plaintiffs, an association of businesses and others, asserted was unconstitutional. The plaintiffs’ suit, filed in the District Court of Travis County, sought injunctive relief against enforcement of the ordinance. The State of Texas intervened in the lawsuit, also asserting claims against the defendant. The defendant answered that the trial court lacked jurisdiction over the matter because plaintiffs’ claims were not yet ripe and/or the State lack standing to intervene.

The trial court denied the defendant’s jurisdictional challenges, as well as the plaintiffs’ request for a temporary injunction.

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As in areas of the law, there are strict procedures that must be followed by those who seek legal redress for an alleged act of Dallas employment discrimination.

Failure to abide by the appropriate procedural rules can, and frequently does, result in dismissal of a case brought by a disgruntled employee or former employee. In a case decided last month, a worker’s employment discrimination lawsuit was dismissed because (among other reasons) she failed to sue a defendant that had the legal capacity to be named as a party in such a case.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case considered by the Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas at Dallas, the plaintiff was a former employee of the defendant city attorney’s office. In 2016, she filed a complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission, alleging a claim of employment discrimination against the defendant. The Commission was unable to conclude that a statutory violation had occurred but advised the plaintiff that she had until December 25, 2016, to file a formal lawsuit against the defendant. The plaintiff filed suit on December 8, 2016, but she did not identify a person to be served.

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Under Texas law, a claimant seeking damages for an alleged act of employment discrimination must follow certain procedural requirements. One of these requirements is the filing of a “sworn, written complaint” with the appropriate agency within a certain time period. If this initial procedural threshold is not met, the plaintiff will likely have great difficulty maintaining a formal complaint against the defendant in court later on. If you have questions about the requirements associated with filing a lawsuit of this nature, reach out to a dedicated Dallas employment discrimination attorney.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a woman who claimed that she had been the subject of a discriminatory act when she was not hired, at age 65, for a lecturer position with the defendant college. She contacted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and completed an intake questionnaire in November 2013, alleging that two younger, less qualified persons had been hired instead of her and that the defendant had stated in a meeting that “young blood” was needed. In April 2014, the EEOC closed the plaintiff’s claim.

The following month, the plaintiff filed suit against the defendant pursuant to the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act. The defendant filed a plea to the jurisdiction of the trial court, as well as motion for summary judgment (seeking dismissal on traditional summary judgment grounds, as well as on no-evidence grounds). Despite the defendant’s argument that the trial court lacked jurisdiction over the matter because the plaintiff had not exhausted her administrative remedies, the trial court denied the defendant’s plea to the jurisdiction of the court.

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A typical Dallas employment discrimination case can involve multiple claims and a wide array of accusations against the employer. If your business has been accused of unlawful discrimination, you should consult an attorney as soon as possible. Discrimination claims rarely “go away” on their own. Rather, it typically takes a considerable amount of time, effort, and legal expertise to reach a favorable resolution of such matters.

Facts of the Case

In a case recently ruled upon by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, the intervenor was a physician (and registered pharmacist) who began working for the defendant county as a primary care clinician in 2008. In 2015, a local newspaper article revealed that there was a pay discrepancy of nearly $35,000 between the intervenor and a male doctor who was hired shortly before the newspaper article was printed. The following year, the intervenor was terminated from her employment.

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Not every Dallas employment litigation case arises from allegations of age or race discrimination or accusations of sexual harassment. Sometimes, litigation arises as a result of an alleged violation of another law, such as the Texas Whistleblower Act (codified at Tex. Gov’t Code §§ 554.001 et seq.).

Under the Texas Whistleblower Act, a state or local governmental entity may not take adverse personnel action against a public employee who, in good faith, reports wrongdoing by another employee or a governmental entity. If an employee can prove that such an adverse action has been taken against him or her in retaliation for “blowing the whistle,” he or she may be entitled to injunctive relief, money damages, and/or attorney fees.

Facts of the Case

In a case recently ruled upon by the Court of Appeals for the Eighth District of Texas, the plaintiff was a former police officer. He filed suit against the defendants, a city and its police department, seeking a remedy under the Texas Whistleblower Act. According to the plaintiff, he was terminated after some seven years of service because he reported that his supervising officer was attempting to have narcotics planted in his ex-wife’s vehicle (the supervisor and his wife were engaged in a custody dispute at the time). The plaintiff made the report sometime in July 2012 and was dishonorably discharged later that month on other grounds.

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When a former employee files a retaliatory discharge complaint against a Dallas area employer, the employer has the right to engage in a “discovery” process designed to learn more about the plaintiff’s allegations. Information obtained during discovery helps the defendant prepare for trial and, sometimes, aids in the facilitation of a settlement between the parties. If you have questions about a situation at your place of work that led to termination, reach out to a Dallas employment law attorney.

Because discovery is an important part of the legal process, a party’s failure to meaningfully participate in the discovery process is highly disfavored by the courts and can result in serious consequences.

Facts of the Case

In an appellate case recently under consideration by the Court of Appeals for the Second Appellate District of Texas at Fort Worth, the plaintiff was a man who sued the defendant (his former employer) for wrongful termination. According to the plaintiff’s allegations, he was fired in retaliation for reporting Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violations against the defendant.

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