Category Archives: Recent Developments

New Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 169 and Employment Cases

On February 12, 2013, the Texas Supreme Court approved Rule 169 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides for expedited proceedings in cases that involve less than $100,000.00 (including damages, penalties, pre-judgment interest, and attorneys’ fees).  The new rule applies only to cases filed on or after March 1, 2013.  An accompanying change… Read More »

First Court of Appeals: Sovereign Immunity Does Not Bar a Suit for Breach of a Severance Agreement with a Government Unit

Guy Rankin was the CEO of the Harris County Housing Authority.  He had a written employment contract with the Authority.  In 2012, the Authority agreed to buy out his contract.  Rankin and the Authority entered into a new contract providing for a one-time severance payment.  The Authority did not make the severance payment, and Rankin… Read More »

Fifth Circuit Finds That a “Fried Chicken” Joke Was Racist

The Fifth Circuit’s decision in Autry v. Fort Bend Independent School District, No. 11-20639 (5th Cir. Jan. 7, 2013), raised eyebrows for reasons that had nothing to do with its ultimate outcome.  The plaintiff (who is black) claimed that he was denied a promotion due to racial discrimination.  The School District acknowledged that it hired a… Read More »

Fifth Circuit Finds Evidence of Pretext in a Supervisor’s Expression of Animus Against Older Employees and Applies the “Cat’s Paw” Rule

The Fifth Circuit is often unsympathetic to appeals from summary judgments against employees in discrimination cases.  However, on February 1, 2013, we saw an exception, when the Fifth Circuit overturned a summary judgment in Chambers v. Sodexo, Inc., No. 12-60232 (5th Cir. Feb. 1, 2013) (not for publication). This was an age discrimination case.  The plaintiff… Read More »

Does the “Mixed Motive” Rule Apply in Title VII Retaliation Cases? The Supreme Court Will Decide.

In January 2013, the United States Supreme Court granted review in a case that could determine whether a plaintiff can win a Title VII retaliation claim under a “mixed motive” theory. To explain the significance of this development, it is useful to start by examining the legal rules for retaliation claims. Suppose that a Title… Read More »

Texas Supreme Court: No Prima Facie Case When the Plaintiff Is Replaced by an Older Worker

The Texas Supreme Court has decided few employment discrimination cases.  One of the most significant cases that the Texas Supreme court has decided is Mission Consolidated Independent School District v. Garcia, 372 S.W.3d 629 (Tex. 2012).  This was an age discrimination case decided under Chapter 21 of the Texas Labor Code.  (For some peculiar reason,… Read More »

Texas Supreme Court: Reporting Illegal Activity to a Supervisor Does Not Satisfy the Whistleblower Statute

The Texas Supreme Court decided two cases today that address whistleblower rights under the Texas Whistleblower Act.  The Act provides protections for whistleblowers who work for the state government.  Normally, a suit against a state government entity would be barred by sovereign immunity.  The Act provides an exemption from sovereign immunity and allows a whistleblower suit, but only if… Read More »