San Antonio Employment Law Blog

San Antonio Employment Law Blog

Texas Statutes of Limitation

Posted in Litigation and trial practice

Lawsuits are tricky. They must be filed within a certain deadline, known as "statutes of limitation."  If a person misses the statute of limitation without a very, very good reason, that person cannot file the lawsuit. Statutes of limitations are very important. A suit based on personal injury must be filed within two years of the act complained of. If a person is in a car wreck, that person must file a lawsuit within two years of the car wreck. 

If the last day of the two year period falls on a weekend or a holiday, then the statute of limitations period is extended until the next business day. A lawsuit based on the state statute which prohibits discrimination must be filed within two years. This statute is known as the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act. 

A suit based on defamation, libel or slander must be filed within one year of the

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Abbott Files Another Frivolous Lawsuit

Posted in Litigation and trial practice

So, Greg Abbott files another frivolous lawsuit. He has filed suit against the federal government over Pres. Obama’s immigration measures. See San Antonio Express News report (account required). And, as before, the lawsuit is described as frivolous by lawyers familiar with immigration law. One immigration lawyer describes the lawsuit as "political theater."  I have written about his frivolous lawsuits and weak defenses here and here. His actions may serve serve as effective politics, but they are ineffective actions. 

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Oral Arguments Set for Nicholas v. SAWS

Posted in Litigation and trial practice

Oral arguments are set for Nicholas v. San Antonio Water System. I previously wrote about that case here and here. CPS spent half a million dollars by November, 2013 defending the case. They could have settled the case for much less. Oral arguments are set for January, 2015 before the Texas Supreme Court. See San Antonio Express News report

The Texas Supreme Court is infamous for being friendly to corporations and employers. The chances of success for the plaintiff are not high. 

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Fifth Circuit Overruled for Being Too Formalistic

Posted in Litigation and trial practice

 

 

 

 

The Supreme Court must take some delight in reversing the Fifth Circuit. In a recent decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has once again reversed the Fifth Circuit. In Johnson v. City of Shelby, No. 13-1318 (5th Cir. 11/10/2014), the Supreme Court found that the Fifth Circuit applied the recent decisions in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007) and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), too rigorously. In Johnson, the Fifth Circuit had dismissed a civil rights claim for failure to plead the claim with adequate particularity. The Supreme Court found that the pleading was adequate regarding its legal theories of recovery. The Fifth Circuit, said the Supreme Court, had applied standards that were intended for factual pleadings to the legal statement of the cause of action. 

Having informed the city of its factual basis, the plaintiff need do nothing

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Schlumberger is Sanctioned for Lawsuit Against Former Employee

Posted in Litigation and trial practice

 

 

 

We are seeing more and more lawsuits against an employee after s/he leaves an employer. Some of these suits have basis, some do not. In Schlumberger v. Rutherford, we see a lawsuit that lacked basis. Charlotte Rutherford was employed by Schlumberger as an in-house lawyer. She was privy to confidential, proprietary information in that capacity. She was the Chief of Intellectual Property Counsel when she left. Schlumberger is one of the largest companies providing technical services to the oil and gas industry. It holds numerous patents on a variety of devices. Ms. Rutherford left with positive performance evaluations.

She went to work for Acacia Research Corporation in May, 2013. Acacia, said Schlumberger, was a patent troll. It created nothing, but instead tried to make a claim for various patents so as to garner an easy settlement. Ms. Rutherford countered that Acacia

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“Fix the Court” Does not Want a True Fix

Posted in Litigation and trial practice

 

 

 

 

As a country, most of us subscribe to certain precepts. These certain precepts keep things running in our country. One of those precepts is that the U.S. Supreme Court is the final arbiter of constitutional issues. Over the last couple of centuries, most of us have come to accept that Supreme Court’s role in deciding those "big" issues. That was not always true. Through the 1850′s or longer, many government officials would take it upon themselves to judge the constitutionality or rightness of federal laws. Now, universally, we wait for the Unied States Supreme Court to resolve the big disputes. The decision in Roe v. Wade rocked that precept as much as any decision has. But, still, most U.S. citizens do not seriously question the Supreme Court’s role in United States society. 

So, it is surprising to me that some groups

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The Ugly Side of Practicing Law

Posted in Litigation and trial practice

There is a seamy side to lawsuits. I am sure this seamy side has been around ever since the Medieval days when representatives were hired because they were better criers. In the San Antonio Express News is a report about immigration lawyers who hire case runners, folks who go out and find clients. They lurk at immigration detention centers and refer clients to particular immigration lawyers. The lawyers pay folks to refer them cases. As explained in the Express News report, it is probably ethical to pay someone a salary, who then refers cases. It is probably okay to pay someone $50 per interview, but not okay to pay someone $50 to bring in a client. See San Antonio Express News report (account needed). 

In this context, ethics refers to the bar association’s code of ethics. The bar association’s system of ethics is well defined and generally, well understood. 

Ethical or not,

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Defamation in the Texas Workplace

Posted in Defamation

 

 

 

 

 

Defamation refers to uspeaking an untruthful statement about someone. "Libel" refers to written defamation. "Slander" refers to oral defamation. In the employment context, defamation has an extra hurdle. In Texas, to charge an employer with defamation, the defamation must be made in the course and scope of his/her employment. That is, the defamatory statement must be related to the speaker’s job. But, so long as the speaker makes the statement to persons with a duty or need to know, then the speaker will be protected by a qualified privilege. So, to qualify as workplace related defamation, the statement must be made as part of one’s job. But, if the statement is part of someone’s job, then it will be protected by a "qualified privilege."

For example, if a manager makes a statement to someone in Human Resources about an

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What is the Dollar Value of Employment Cases?

Posted in General

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clients and potential clients often ask me at some point what is the value of his/her case? What little they know of its value is colored by the ubiquitous Personal Injury lawyer ads. Or, sometimes, their knowledge is influenced by what some brother-in-law knows, or thinks he knows. So, some clients, a small percentage, expect wealth and riches.  

Employment cases are not car wreck cases. The employment discrimination statutes provide for specific types of damages. Title VII and the Texas law equivalent, Texas Commission on Human Rights Act, provide for lost pay and benefits, compensatory damages, punitive damages and costs of prosecuting the lawsuit which includes attorney’s fees. There is nothing more. There is not, for example, such a thing as an award for the value of the home you lost or the divorce the job

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Employer Can Require a More Healthy Workforce?

Posted in General

The health of workers will affect the amount an employer must pay for health insurance. The more ill a workforce is, the more the employer (and the employees) must pay for insurance premiums. That cost saving could lead to employers hiring only healthy workers. Or, it could cause employers to ask employees to take routine medical exams. One such employer, Honeywell, has indeed started asking employees to take medical exams. What happens if an employee refuses? That is the subject of a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The U.S. District Court has ruled that Honeywell can keep requiring those tests. 

Honeywell’s tests include blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose and indications regarding whether the employee has been smoking. The EEOC filed this lawsuit in Minneapolis last month. Employees who refuses to take the tests could be fined up to $4,000 in surcharges and additional health care premiums. Honeywell says it

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