San Antonio Employment Law Blog

San Antonio Employment Law Blog

Abbott Loses Appeal re Attorney’s fees for Wendy Davis and Others

Posted in Litigation and trial practice

I have written about Greg Abbott’s many frivolous lawsuits and frivolous defenses to meritorious lawsuits. One such lawsuit was filed by Wendy David and other civil rights organizations regarding re-districting in 2011. Wendy Davis and the other minority groups won their lawsuit. They were awarded a million dollars in legal fees. I wrote about that result here. Now, the state’s appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court has been rejected. So, the state of Texas will have to pay over a million dollars because it refused to recognize a lawsuit with merit.

On appeal, the state of Texas had claimed it was the prevailing party. If true, then the state of Texas would be entitled to attorney’s fees. But, at the court of appeals level, the judge scolded the state for making such a specious argument. See San Antonio Express News report.

So, yes, the state of Texas’ defense to this suit

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Western District Jury Finds for Plaintiff

Posted in Discrimination, Litigation and trial practice

Monica Hague filed suit against the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio in 2011. Judge Garcia of the Western District granted summary judgment against her in 2013. The Plaintiff appealed to the Fifth Circuit. The higher court reversed summary judgment regarding Ms. Hague’s retaliation claim and affirmed summary judgment regarding her sexual harassment and sex discrimination claims. See Fifth Circuit decision. Ms. Hague argued on appeal that when a supervisor (Dr. Manifold) read a sexually explicit article out loud during a meeting and gave a sexually explicit doll to a co-worker, that conduct amounted to sexual discrimination.  But, Ms. Hague failed to check the block for sex discrimination on the EEOC charge form.

[Note this is a good reason why folks should consult with a lawyer before going to the EEOC. The EEOC workers mean well, but they just do not address every possible issue. Checking the right

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Employee Files Suit Regarding Forced Abortion

Posted in Discrimination

Quid pro quo sex discrimination refers to the situation in which a male harasser asks for sexual favors from a female subordinate. The phrase is Latin for “something for something”. That is the situation involved in the lawsuit of Stephanie Cordero against Tom Benson Chevrolet and her former supervisor, Ernesto Davila. But, Ms. Cordero goes one step beyond and alleges Mr. Davila forced her to abort the baby when she became pregnant. See San Antonio Express News report. The former employee says she was fired anyway. She worked at Benson Chevrolet from June, 2012 to June, 2014. Mr. Davila was the new car sales manager. Ms. Cordero says she complained about sexual harassment, but the employer did nothing.

The plaintiff says she provided text messages as evidence of the harassment. Her lawyers say they amended the lawsuit to include claims of wrongful death in regard to the forced abortion. They have

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An Employer Can Violate Its Own Rules

Posted in General

Sometime back, I met with a young man about his work situation. He was told by his boss to do some things that the worker believed would violate internal policies. Every work place has rules unique to that work place. We describe those rules as internal rules or policies. The worker was essentially telling me he was enforcing the rules, even if his boss was not.

Well, I had to tell him that those rules are not binding on the employer. The employer can change them. Even in a large national corporation, the boss is basically the “employer.” The boss can ignore those rules. What if violating those rules places a worker at risk of physical harm? For example, if you work in a warehouse and the rule is never climb a ladder without a co-worker holding the bottom of the ladder. What if the supervisor one day says get a box

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Religion Invoked in Texas House Race

Posted in Discrimination

Back in the 1850’s, religion became a large part of the national debate in all elections, state, local and national. The Know Nothings opposed immigrants in general and Roman Catholics in particular. They were called Know Nothings, because they were instructed to reply “I know nothing” when asked about their party. The party was officially known as the American party. It was a political party that often met in secret.

Today, we again see issues about religion. In one San Antonio race for the state Legislature, Jeff Judson has invoked religion. He claims to be a God- honoring, Christian conservative running against Joe Strauss, who is Jewish. He claims the state Legislature is disconnected from God, because Mr. Strauss, the Speaker of the House, killed statutes that would protect “religious liberty” and life.  When asked, Mr. Judson would not explain how Mr. Strauss is not connected to God. As Cal Jillson, the

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Trump Spokesperson Tweeted about “Pure Breeds”

Posted in Discrimination

So, back in 2012, the presidential election was between Barack Obama, son of a black father and white mother, and Mitt Romney, whose father was born in Mexico. Don Trump’s spokesperson tweeted at the time: “Perfect Obama’s dad born in Africa, Mitt Romney’s dad born in Mexico. Any pure breeds left?” See CBS news report. J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, compared Mr. Trump to the Death Eaters in a recent tweet. The Death Eaters in her recent books also preferred “pure bloods.”

All I can say is I cannot believe Don Trump has not been sued by someone for racial discrimination. His comments are ready made for a discrimination lawsuit.

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ERISA Shields Employers from Liability for Workplace Injuries

Posted in Worker's compensation

The arbitration system is harmful to employees. ERISA is often harmful to employees. So, what happens when a case involves both arbitration and ERISA? Mucho harm to employees. That is the subject of a NPR report that address the ERISA law and worker’s compensation. See NPR report. As the report explains, Kevin Schiller was a building engineer for Macy’s in Texas. After 21 years with Macy’s, he suffered a bad fall at work. He suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury. For some time, the injury remained undiagnosed. He experienced bad headaches, memory loss, disorientation and extreme sensitivity to bright light. Macy’s thought he was faking it. One doctor said he was psychosomatic. Other doctors told him they were there to observe him, not treat him.

Like many employers in Texas, Macy’s opted out of the state worker’s compensation system. It relied on private, employer provided medical insurance. Mr. Schiller, however, could not get

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Fifth Circuit Disregards Summary Judgment Standards

Posted in Discrimination
Fifth Circuit Court Building

The point of summary judgment is to dismiss cases that have no genuine chance of winning in front of a jury, or cases that a jury should not even hear. Summary judgment should result in dismissal of  cases that lack any real issue of fact. Why have a trial if there is no genuine issue? “Summary” means quick. So, if there is no real issue of fact, then it makes sense for the judge to decide the case quickly. But, at some point, some judges have hijacked the summary judgment motion to serve as a vehicle for judicial fact-finding. We see such an example in Wheat v. Florida Parish Juvenile Justice Commission, No. 14-30788 (5th Cir. 1/5/2016).

Lillie Wheat worked as a detention officer at a juvenile detention facility operated by the Florida Parish Juvenile Justice Commission. She rose through the ranks to Assistant Director of Female Services in 2008. In 2009, she

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Bexar County Eliminated Position of Plaintiff During Appeal

Posted in Litigation and trial practice

What happens when an employer affords a right of redress to its employees, but not really? The large counties in Texas have the statutory right to create civil service commissions. The commissions provide a measure of job protection to county employees. In providing these protections,  politics is removed from job issues, in theory. See generally Tex.Loc.Govt. C. Sec. 158.001, et seq. In the case of Guerrero v. Bexar County Civil Service Commission, No. 04-15-00341 (Tex. App. San Antonio), Carmella Guerrero appealed her demotion. She had been the IT Services Manager for Bexar County in 2010, when she was demoted. Her salary went from $80,000 per year to $58,000. She was a 20 year employee at the time. All her performance evaluations are positive. The reasons for the demotion are not explained, but she did receive a new boss shortly before the demotion.

She appealed her demotion to the Civil Service Commission. The

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U.S. Supreme Court Hears Case Regarding Mandatory Union Fees

Posted in Labor Law

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a challenge to the long accepted rule that when public sector unions negotiate, they negotiate on behalf of all employees, not just those who are members. A person can work at a union work place, but not be a member of the union. If a worker chooses not to join the union, however, s/he still pays a fee to the union. A Teacher in California, Rebecca Friedrichs, filed the lawsuit over some $650 deducted from her pay per year for the union fee. Actual members pay about $1,000 per year. The theory, as explained in the 1977 case, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. 209 (1977), is that “free-loaders,” those who receive the benefits, should pay some of the load. See the Abood decision here.

The difficulty for some workers is that the election to form a union might occur

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