SAWS has decided to appeal the ruling by the Fourth Court of Appeals regarding its million dollar jury verdict. I wrote about that appellate ruling here. SAWS has hired former Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson to represent it before the Texas Supreme Court. Even before he became Chief Justice, Mr. Jefferson was one of the best appellate lawyers in San Antonio. Now with his connections and credibility with the current members of the Supreme Court, some might think the former Chief Justice cannot lose. See San Antonio Express News report (account required).
SAWS has spent close to $500,000 defending itself against this lawsuit, already. I previously wrote about its high defense costs here. A former Chief Justice will demand equally high rates for this one appeal. I would not be surprised to see him charging $100,000 or more for this one appeal. All this when the employer could surely have settled for far less, long ago.
As I have explained to some clients, some employers find allegations of discrimination very hard to accept. Discrimination cases are not like car accidents. "Discrimination" implies some level of deliberate intent. Many employers know "ole Joe" and refuse to believe ole Joe would deliberately discriminate. But, more recent sociology theory suggests that bias is more subtle than that. Discrimination is less Ku Klux Klanners in a white robe and more people who grow up with a set of expectations. This mindset is often latent until some issue develops.
This case is about retaliation for opposing discriminatory conduct. Debra Nicholas warned Greg Flores about his conduct which was perceived as gender based discrimination. He was hitting on a lower level female employee. Did Ms. Nicholas’ opposition change the way Greg Flores looked at her in subtle ways? Possibly.
In any event, SAWS’ lawyer surely explained to the employer that defending their beliefs could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. In the end, it is the client’s decision to move forward, regardless of the cost.