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The courts have been struggling with the meaning of “sex” in Title VII for a couple of decades. Title VII prohibits discrimination based on “sex.” Does that include discrimination based on sexual orientation? In Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc., 523 US 75, 118 S.Ct. 998, 140 L.Ed.2d 201 (1998), the court tried to walk a tightrope and found that stereotyping a person based on gender was prohibited by  Tile VII, while discrimination based on…
A woman who sued Southwest Research Institute was awarded $410,000 by a federal court jury here in San Antonio. The jury found in her favor. I previously wrote about her case here. It was a remarkable case. She was fired within just a few days after she filed a complaint of discrimination with the EEOC. Ordinarily, that would appear to be a strong case of retaliation. I noted then that the employer’s case appeared…
One of the aspects unique to employment suits is the simple fact that a fired person will, one hopes, soon find new employment. Generally, for most folks, one job will follow another. That presents new sources of evidence. In Mesa v. City of San Antonio, No. 16-CV-870 (W.D. Tex. 1/23/2018), Abel Mesa worked for City Public Service for some 26 years. Mr. Mesa sued CPS saying he was forced out due to age and disabilities.…
It is required of every business and government in the country to hire an American Sign Language interpreter if a hearing impaired person requests one. That requirement of the Americans with Disabilities Act has been around since the law was passed in 1991. It is remarkable how few businesses and governments realize that. When I worked at Disability Rights of Texas, some of the worst offenders were doctor’s offices. The doctors were simply not aware…
My Cousin Vinny was a wonderful movie in many respects. One of those respects involves the cross examination by Vinny of a so-called eye witness. After close questioning, the “eye witness” admitted he had made eggs and grits while the two defendants were supposedly robbing a small, rural store. As Vinny explained, the witness could not have possibly cooked his 20 minute grits and eggs during the five minutes he said he saw the defendants…
In a recent case, the Ft. Worth Court of Appeals addressed the question, does the Texas age discrimination statute require that the plaintiff be over 40 years old during the discrimination? The court said no. In Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc. v. Burnett, 552 S.W.3d 901 (2018), the employee was harassed due to his age. The harassment started while he was still 39 years old. The harassment continued after he turned 40. There was also evidence that…
One thing you do not do when you file a lawsuit is antagonize the judge – without a very good reason. Roger Stone just cannot dial down his personality. On the same day a federal judge issued a gag order on him, he re-issued a book from two years ago with a new introduction. The new introduction criticizes Robert Mueller and the Mueller investigation. On Tuesday, the judge said the book was not in compliance…
There is no statute (i.e., a law passed by the state legislature) in Texas protecting workers from being forced to commit illegal acts.  So, prior to 1985, if your employer told you to rob the local bank and you refused, you could have been fired.  But, now there is judge-made law in the form of Sabine Pilot v. Hauck, 687 S.W.2d 733 (1985) that found protection for a worker being forced by an employer to…
Employers do some crazy things, sometimes. One employer in New Braunfels has been paying “volunteers” with gift cards and fabric. Quilt Haus and Way to Sew have been paying some workers with gift cards payable to the store itself. The workers would receive one gift card valued at $8 for each hour of work. The worker could then use the card to buy fabric. The store referred to the workers as “volunteers.” But, as I…
Public discourse has taken a turn for the worse. Things are so bad that criticism of federal judges has become common place. Last week, Pres. Trump spoke about the Ninth Circuit in demeaning terms, clearly saying the Ninth Circuit attracts lawsuits against his policies and is likely to rule against him. A few days later, Roger Stone, a long-time adviser to Mr. Trump, posts a photo of U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson with cross…