Recent Blog Posts

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In an unpublished opinion, the Fort Worth Court of Appeals found that a non-compete was unenforceable due to waiver and overbreath.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 »

Houston Court of Appeals Holds That a Doctor’s Employment-Related Claim Is Not a Health Care Liability Claim

Chapter 74 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code requires the dismissal of a health care liability claim unless the plaintiff files an expert report within 120 days. This is generally applicable in malpractice cases, but the courts have expanded the scope of the statute to cover other sorts of claims. In Methodist Hospital… Read More »

San Antonio Court of Appeals Upholds Causation in a Retaliation Case Despite a Three-Year Time Gap

Unlike ordinary discrimination claims, retaliation claims require “but for” causation: that the retaliatory act would not have occurred but for the plaintiff’s protected activity. It is common for plaintiffs to rely on “temporal proximity” (in other words, a short time gap between the protected activity and the adverse employment action) to prove causation. However, the… Read More »

Austin Court of Appeals Affirms Summary Judgment on Constructive Discharge Claim

When employees quit, rather than being fired, they can still sue for wrongful termination under a constructive discharge theory. However, the legal standard for constructive discharge is high. This is illustrated by Gardner v. Abbott, No. 03-12-00680-CV (Tex. App. — Austin 2013, no pet.) (now reported at 414 S.W.3d 369). Gardner was a state employee… Read More »