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.
Holding of the Court of Appeals
The Court of Appeals for the Eighth District of Texas reversed the lower tribunal’s decision and rendered judgment dismissing the plaintiff’s employment discrimination claim against the defendant. On appeal, the defendant maintained that the filing of a sworn complaint with the EEOC was a statutory prerequisite to the filing of an age discrimination lawsuit against a governmental employer. The appellate court agreed with the defendant’s argument, as well at the defendant’s contention that, without a sworn complaint, there was no waiver of immunity by the defendant and the plaintiff’s suit was jurisdictionally barred.
In so holding, the court of appeals noted that the plaintiff had failed to amend her intake questionnaire with a verified amendment, even though she had an opportunity to do so in a timely fashion. Once the EEOC had closed the plaintiff’s file, any attempt to amend the original, defective questionnaire was to be treated as a new charge for purposes of determining the timeliness of the plaintiff’s claim.
Contact and Experienced Employment Discrimination Defense Attorney
Former employees and even would-be employees sometimes claim that they were treated unfairly by a Dallas area employer. However, it takes much more than a mere accusation for a disgruntled worker to be successful on such a claim. The burden of prove in these cases is on the plaintiff, and the defendant has every right to defend itself in a court of law. If your business has been accused of unfair treatment of employee or job applicant, the experienced Dallas employment discrimination lawyers at Key Harrington Barnes at here to help. Call us at 214-615-7925 for an appointment to get started on your defense.
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