Monthly Archives: February 2014

Austin Court of Appeals Affirms Disparate Impact Judgment in Age Discrimination Case

Thirty-three City of Austin employees sued for age discrimination, claiming that the terms of their transfer from a defunct department to the Austin Police Department had a disparate impact on older workers. They won the case to a jury. On February 7, 2014, the Austin Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment in City of Austin… Read More »

What Is “Constructive Discharge” in Texas?

1. What is a constructive discharge? The typical scenario for an employment law case is that the employer has fired the employee. Assuming that the fired worker was an at-will employee, the question is whether the worker has a wrongful termination claim based on discrimination or retaliation. But what if the employer did not fire… Read More »

First Court of Appeals Vacates Temporary Injunction in Non-Compete/Trade Secrets Case Due to Lack of Specificity

Rule 683 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure provides that an injunction order “shall set forth the reasons for its issuance; shall be specific in terms; [and] shall describe in reasonable detail and not by reference to the complaint or other document, the act or acts sought to be restrained.” Notwithstanding that language, it… Read More »

Fifth Circuit Reverses a Jury Verdict in a Racial Harassment Case Because the Employer Took Prompt Remedial Action

When one employee harasses another employee on the basis of sex, race, or another protected classification, the employer is not automatically liable for the misconduct of the employee. Instead, vicarious liability attaches only if the employer knows (or should have known) about the harassment and fails to take prompt remedial action. The Fifth Circuit applied… Read More »

Fort Worth Court of Appeals Finds Non-Compete Unenforceable Due to Waiver and Overbreadth

In an unpublished opinion, the Fort Worth Court of Appeals found that a non-compete was unenforceable due to waiver and overbreath. Ally Financial, Inc. v. Gutierrez, No. 02-13-00108-CV (Tex. App. — Fort Worth Jan. 23, 2014). Gutierrez worked for Ally in Lewisville, Texas. Ally adopted a compensation incentive plan (CIP) under which certain employees (including… Read More »

Fourteenth Court of Appeals Holds that Equitable Estoppel Bars an Employer from Asserting the Statute of Limitations in an FLSA Case

The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to pay the minimum wage and overtime. The FLSA contains a two-year statute of limitations that can be extended to three years in the case of willful conduct. On January 28, 2014, the Fourteenth Court of Appeals affirmed a jury verdict that allowed the plaintiff to bypass the… Read More »

Houston Court of Appeals Holds That an Employee Recently Released from a Drug Rehab Program Is a “Current” Drug Addict for Purposes of Disability Discrimination

The disability discrimination statutes under both federal and state law expressly exclude current drug addiction as a disability. In Melendez v. Houston Independent School District, No. 14-12-00946-CV (Tex. App. — Houston [14th Dist.] Dec. 5, 2013), the Fourteenth Court of Appeals considered the application of that rule to an employee who had recently been released… Read More »

Houston Court of Appeals Affirms Denial of Injunction in Physician Non-Compete Case

Lasikplus of Texas, LLC v. Mattioli, No. 14-12-01155-CV (Tex. App. — Houston [14th Dist.] Nov. 21, 2013), addressed the availability of a temporary injunction to enforce the non-compete in a physician’s contract. Dr. Mattioli worked for Lasikplus under a contract that contained a non-compete and a provision requiring 120 days notice of termination. Dr. Mattioli… Read More »

El Paso Court of Appeals Upholds Workers Comp Retaliation Verdict Despite the Employer’s Reliance on a Cause-Neutral Absence Control Policy

Chapter 451 of the Texas Labor Code prohibits an employer from retaliating or discriminating against an employee who files a workers compensation claim. The key issue in many cases under Chapter 451 is whether the employee can prove that the retaliation was due to the workers compensation claim. Employers will often claim that they took… Read More »