Recent Blog Posts

Houston Court of Appeals Extends Drennen to an Suit for Injunctive Relief to Enforce a Non-Compete

On August 29, 2014, the Texas Supreme Court issued its decision in Exxon Corp. v. Drennen, holding that New York law governed the enforceability of a non-compete in the context of the forfeiture of an employee’s stock options.  The Texas Supreme Court held that, when the only penalty is the forfeiture of stock options, the… Read More »

Disability Discrimination Claim Survives Summary Judgment Even Though the Employee Requested an Unreasonable Accommodation

The Americans with Disabilities Act and Chapter 21 of the Texas Labor Code prohibit disability discrimination and require an employer to provide reasonable accommodations to a disabled employee.  If an employee requests a reasonable accommodation, the employer and an employee must engage in an “interactive process” to determine an acceptable accommodation.  All too often, however, employers… Read More »

Fifth Circuit Upholds Religious Discrimination Claim by Fort Bend County Employee

Religious discrimination claims are different from most other types of discrimination claims because, under appropriate circumstances, an employer may have an affirmative obligation to accommodate an employee’s religious practices.  The Fifth Circuit considered this type of religious discrimination claim in Davis v. Fort Bend County, No.13-20610 (5th Cir. Aug. 26, 2014). The plaintiff was an… Read More »

When Is a Non-Compete Not a Non-Compete? The Texas Supreme Court’s Decision in Exxon v. Drennen

On its face, the recent Texas Supreme Court decision in Exxon Corp. v. Drennen, No. 12-0621 (Tex. Aug. 29, 2014), might seem to have limited relevance to Texas law.  The Court held that the case was governed by New York law and decided the case based on New York precedent.  But a closer look at… Read More »

Houston of Appeals Upholds Pregnancy Discrimination Claim Based on Termination Three Months After Childbirth

Both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Chapter 21 of the Texas Labor Code prohibit discrimination based on pregnancy.  But do those statutes apply to an employee who has already given birth and is no longer pregnant?  The First Court of Appeals addressed that issue in Kipp, Inc. v. Whitehead, No…. Read More »

What Is a Hostile Work Environment in Texas?

1. My work environment is hostile.  My boss hates me and yells at me.  My co-workers are mean to me and gossip about me behind my back.  I keep getting unfair write-ups.  I’m not getting promotions.  I can’t stand going to work anymore.  Can I sue? Without more, no.  The term “hostile work environment” is… Read More »

The Fifth Circuit Finds That a Reduction in Job Responsibilites Could Constitute an Adverse Employment Action

One of the essential elements of a discrimination claim is that the employee must have suffered an “adverse employment action.”  The purpose of this element is to weed out minor complaints, such as write-ups and other matters that do not affect the terms and conditions of employment.  As a general rule, an adverse employment action… Read More »

The Fifth Circuit Clarifies the Rules for Mis-Named Employers in EEOC Charges

Most of the discrimination statutes require a mandatory administrative process as a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit.  The employee must file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC or TWC within a specified number of days, and then the agency is supposed to investigate the charge.  If the agency does not pursue the charge, it… Read More »

The FMLA and Employment Law Principles in the Family Law Context

This is a paper that I presented at the 4th Definitive Ad Litem Seminar on April 11-12, 2014.  The event was hosted by the Juvenile Law Section of the Houston Bar Association.  How Employment Law Can Help You and Your Client in Adoption, Child Placement, and Other Family Court Matters The paper discusses three topics:… Read More »

When Is a Fired Employee Entitled to Receive Unpaid Commissions in Texas?

Consider this scenario: Employee A has worked in sales for Employer B for many years.  In addition to a small salary, Employee A gets a 4% commission on all sales.  On July 1, Employee A’s employment ends, either because Employee A quits or Employer B fires Employee A.  There are pending commissions from May and… Read More »