San Antonio Employment Law Blog

San Antonio Employment Law Blog

Texas Legislature Pulls Back from Reducing Veteran Benefits

Posted in General

Well, the Texas Legislature pulled back from the edge of the precipice. The state legislature came very close to reducing Hazlewood Act benefits for Texas veterans and their children. I previously wrote about that effort to reduce benefits here and here. The Hazlewood Act allows veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to attend state colleges tuition free. If the veteran does not take advantage of the benefit, s/he can pass the benefit to his/her children. A couple of key members of the House realized that passing a bill that slashes that benefit the day before Memorial Day, when the state budget is enjoying such a large surplus, would generate very poor public relations for the state. I have to say, if we do not invest in our veterans and their families, what is worth some investment?

See Texas Tribune report.

Continue Reading

Memorial Day: Thank a Vet

Posted in General

Memorial Day is a time to remember those veterans who gave all they had to give for us. I always think of  1SGT Saenz at times like this. Some 100 of us IRR members met at Ft. Jackson on March 13, 2005. We reported to Ft. Jackson, South Carolina for in-processing and reintroduction to the US Army.  We knew we would be deploying to Iraq.  Then MSGT Saenz had a huge laugh and a booming voice. He laughed a lot.

Those first few days, some Reservists were angry about being called up. Some were happy to be there. MSGT Saenz seemed pretty happy to be where he was, preparing for responsibility in a war zone. Later, as I learned, he performed very well and inspired his soldiers.

He died in the dusty streets of Baghdad near the end of our tour. We were leaving Iraq in just

Continue Reading

Plaintiff Loses Spilled Hot Coffee Trial

Posted in General

The McDonald’s coffee cup case from New Mexico some 20 years ago is often cited by folks alleging lawsuit abuse. What those folks do not know is the coffee was kept at a very high temperature (above 160 degrees) despite many complaints, the lady suffered third degree burns on her inner thigh and the McDonald’s representative who testified at trial came across as arrogant. There are many sources for my information on this case. See, for example, MGR law. Now, we see what happens when another large corporation is accused of serving much too hot coffee that is then spilled in someone’s lap. But, this time, perhaps the company, Starbucks, testified better. The jury returned a jury verdict of zero. See ABA Bar Journal report. And, this time, the coffee was free coffee for a law enforcement officer.

Continue Reading

Former City Manager Says Female Council Members Process Things Differently

Posted in Discrimination

Are women different when they serve in managerial capacities? One former City Manager apparently thinks so. Jonathan Allen, former City Manager of Lauderdale Lakes, Florida, addressed the group and said plainly that women in government do not read the research prior to meetings and ask too many questions. “They don’t process things the same way,” he said. Mr. Allen was City Manager when Ft. Lauderdale had an all-female city commission. Austin, Texas has a majority female City Council. Apparently, the seminar was organized by the Austin City Manager.

Mr. Allen later issued a statement saying his remarks were mis-construed and he apologized for any mis-communication. See CBS news report. I think Mr. Allen does not process things the same way either….

Continue Reading

Texas House Plans to Slash Hazlewood Benefits

Posted in Uncategorized

Well, the state Senate passed a measure that would restrict Hazlewood recipients to veterans who served six years or longer. That means the average veteran who does his or her 3 years and leaves would not qualify. And, the benefits must be used within 15 years of service, according to the Senate version. That means many, perhaps most children of veterans will be too young to use the college benefits. The Hazlewood Act allows veterans to attend a state college free of tuition and some fees. The current act allows veterans to pass the benefit to his/her children if the veteran cannot use it. I previously wrote about this attack on the Hazlewood Act benefits here.

And, at about the same time as the Senate version, the state House passed a measure that would limit the credit hours to 60 hours, a big reduction from 150 hours. Both measures apply immediately,

Continue Reading

Witness Indicted for Perjury

Posted in Uncategorized
Pen

People lie in civil cases. They really do. Unlike what you see on TV, witnesses can usually lie in non-criminal cases and get away with it. Prosecutors just are not interested in going after folks who lie in a civil case. They have too many more serious cases to deal with. But, one woman in Houston learned that sometimes, the prosecutor will take notice when proving the lie is easy enough.

Amy Fisher lied for her employer in a wage lawsuit. The case went to court in federal court in Houston. A key issue was whether salespersons were outside sales or inside sales. If they were outside salespersons, they they would be exempt from overtime requirements. Ms. Fisher must have exaggerated some amount regarding the extent to which sales persons conducted sales outside. She was the only sales associate to testify at trial for Meritage Homes Corp. She apparently testified in deposition

Continue Reading

Coach Leach’s Appeal Denied Again

Posted in Contracts

Mike Leach was fired by Texas Tech over five years ago. He filed suit over that termination, saying it violated his contract. I previously wrote about his lawsuit here and here. He sued to force the state to honor its contract hiring him. But, his initial appeal was denied. And, now the Texas Supreme Court has also denied his appeal. See Fox Sports report.

Consider what the former Texas Tech Chancellor said about the firing of Coach Leach: “If you tell your boss to go f— themselves, then you will probably be dealing with your boss.” Kent Hance said he learned that in 3rd grade growing up in the Texas Panhandle. That does sound like good employer-employee advice. See Lubbock Avalanche-Journal news report. The administration asked Coach Leach to apologize to that student he punished. Coach Leach refused.

Continue Reading

Schlumberger Seeks to Overturn Jury Verdict

Posted in Litigation and trial practice

Schlumberger cannot accept its loss in a recent jury trial. The large oil field service company has asked U.S. District Judge Lamberth for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict. That is, it has asked the judge to toss the jury verdict saying the verdict lacked evidentiary support. See San Antonio Express News report (account required). The plaintiff’s lawyer earlier filed a motion seeking $350,000 in an award of attorney’s fees. That is a very high amount. That large amount probably reflects the great amount of work the plaintiff’s lawyers had to invest to get to trial. The jury verdict was a relatively small amount, some $29,000 in total damages. See my prior post here.

Regarding Schlumberger’s request to toss the jury verdict, the plaintiff’s lawyer said the employer is setting up the case for appeal. The appeal will likely cost more than the entire jury award. As many employers do, Schlumberger

Continue Reading

Governor Sends in the Guard

Posted in General

The request is a little silly. Gov. Abbott has asked the Texas National Guard to “monitor” the U.S. Army Special Forces as it performs some training at Camp Swift, near Bastrop. The Camp Swift exercise is part of a seven state training exercise for the SF guys. Some folks in Bastrop were concerned. They seem to think Pres. Obama is about to take over Texas. Special Forces Command says some 1200 SF soldiers will take part in the exercise at some 17 locations in Texas. Special Forces does this periodically. They need new training areas, preferably in urban areas. SF guys train so often that the mock urban villages at Ft. Bragg, Ft. Hood and elsewhere become stale and predictable. The Bastrop citizens were not satisfied with the Special Forces Command spokesman explanation of the training. So, the Governor’s office announced it had asked the Texas Guard to monitor.

As one senator

Continue Reading

Texas Supreme Court Changes Retaliation Requirements

Posted in Discrimination
Texas Supreme Court Building

The Texas Supreme Court reversed the jury decision in Nicholas v. SAWS. See decision here. The result is not surprising. The Texas Supreme Court frequently reverses jury verdicts in favor of victims of discrimination. The court found that Debra Nicholas did not have a reasonable belief that she was opposing discrimination when she warned a SAWS executive about asking two younger staffers to lunch. I previously wrote about this case here and here. The decision omits some facts, such as it was the SAWS General Counsel who first believed Greg Flores’ actions amounted to possible sexual harassment. The General Counsel asked Debra Nicholas to get involved. One of the junior staffers said she would file a sexual harassment complaint if the invitations did not stop. I wrote earlier that SAWS’ argument on appeal would be difficult to win.  See my prior post here. Yet, it is that

Continue Reading

.