Articles Posted in Employee Relations

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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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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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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When it comes to Dallas area employment lawsuits, such as wage and hour claims, it is important to consider not only the issues in a case currently facing an employer but also the potential implications of the employer’s position in the current case if other lawsuits or claims are filed later.

Otherwise, an employer’s argument in one case could be used against it in another case.

Facts of the Case

Being a defendant in a Dallas employment law case once is challenging enough, but what happens when a disgruntled employee’s claims are dismissed in federal court but he refiles a second suit in state court?

The answer depends on several factors, each of which must be examined in detail by the court in which the second action is filed.

Facts of the Case

A recent case began with the plaintiff former employee filing suit in federal court against the defendant former employer, asserting claims for both discrimination and a hostile work environment, as well as common law claims associated with the defendant’s alleged disclosure of certain information about him to two police departments. The federal court dismissed the plaintiff’s suit with prejudice. Continue reading

Sometimes, an employer can do everything in its power to “work with” an employee, giving him or her the benefit of every doubt, and yet still find itself on the wrong end of a Dallas employment law case.

In a recent case, an employer did not immediately terminate a delivery driver whose drivers’ license was suspended due to drunk driving, placing him in a non-driving position instead. Nevertheless, the employee filed multiple union grievances, an OSHA complaint (after falling in a liquid substance at work), and, eventually, a lawsuit against the employer.

Facts of the Case

Dallas employment cases can involve a multitude of issues – employee terminations or severance agreements, executive compensation, internal investigations, and pension rights. Although pensions are not as common as they once were, disputes between employees and employers regarding pension systems can still arise. If your business is anticipating litigation regarding a pension plan, seeking legal advice sooner rather than later is a wise move.

Facts of the Case

In a recently decided appellate court case, the plaintiff was a municipal employees’ pension system. The pension system filed suit against the defendant city and others, seeking relief after the city created local government corporations to which it transferred some of its employees. One of the issues in the case concerned the transferred employees’ status regarding the city’s pension fund.

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