Misconduct by employers gives rise to many employment claims resulting from unlawful discrimination and retaliation in the workplace. Two recent cases in Texas courts discussed below provide examples of employment claims involving discrimination by employers in Texas. Do you have a discrimination claim against an employer? The mere belief of an employee that he or she suffered discrimination or retaliation is not legally sufficient to bring a claim. Employees bringing claims against employers must produce direct or circumstantial evidence to prove their claims.
Kilgore & Kilgore has Experience with Employment Discrimination and Retaliation Claims
If you think you have been discriminated against by your employer because of your sex, age, race, religion, disability, national origin, or another illegal reason, click here to connect with an employment lawyer at our firm for a free review of the facts of your situation Contact Kilgore & Kilgore.
Direct or Circumstantial Evidence of Discrimination or Retaliation
An example of direct evidence of discrimination would be an oral or written communication in which an employer states that an adverse employment action has been taken against an employee because of the employee’s sex, age, race, religion, disability, national origin, or membership in a protected class. Usually, it is difficult for an employee to produce this kind of smoking gun direct evidence in today’s workplace where discrimination is quite subtle.
In most cases, an employee must rely on circumstantial evidence to prove his or her claim of discrimination. An example of circumstantial evidence of discrimination would include a comparison of employees who are similarly situated in terms of experience, qualifications, and performance, but who are treated differently. This might be due to that employee’s membership in a protected class. An employer’s conduct towards employees in the same protected class could be another example of circumstantial evidence of discrimination.
Protected Class Definition in the Context of Discrimination Law
In U. S. federal anti-discrimination law, a protected class is a group of people with a common characteristic who are legally protected from discrimination on the basis of that characteristic. For example, the characteristics of race are protected by federal law in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
For a retaliation claim, close temporal proximity between the employee’s protected activity and the employer’s adverse action is an example of circumstantial evidence of unlawful retaliation. Many courts have rules that define temporal proximity as a short time interval between a protected activity and an adverse action. This standard includes the word close as in close in time meaning within a reasonable timeframe.
An accumulation of circumstantial evidence can give rise to an inference of discrimination or unlawful retaliation. Typically, an employer will try to offer legitimate, non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory reasons for its adverse action against an employee. Ultimately, the employee, through his or her evidence, must show that the employer’s proffered reasons are merely pretext for actual discrimination or retaliation.
To Start Discrimination Claim File a Complaint with the TWC or EEOC
Before an employee can file a lawsuit for employment discrimination or retaliation in Texas, he or she must file a complaint of discrimination with the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Such complaints must be filed in a timely manner, as there are restrictions with each agency. For information about these time restrictions, click here EEOC Guidelines Page.
Sex Discrimination Plaintiff Prevails in El Paso
Unfortunately, many women experience sex discrimination and retaliation in the workplace. In a case in El Paso County District Court, an operations manager brought an action against the county after she was terminated. The case was Miranda v. El Paso County. Prior to her termination, she (the plaintiff) allegedly experienced sexual harassment by her supervisor. When the plaintiff learned that her supervisor was going to be promoted, she objected to the supervisor of her boss, pursued a grievance, and was terminated. The plaintiff claimed that she was terminated because of sex discrimination and retaliation. However, the county claimed that the plaintiff was terminated because of insubordination.
At trial earlier this year, the court awarded the plaintiff $203,000 in back pay. The jury found in favor of the plaintiff on her claims of sex discrimination and retaliation. She was awarded $750,000 for past and future emotional distress. This award was reduced to $300,000 under Texas law, since caps apply to such claims.
Jury Awarded Damages to Age Discrimination Plaintiff
If you are 40 years of age or older, you may be protected by state and federal age discrimination laws. In a recent case, a maintenance assistant for the Texas Department of Transportation brought an action in El Paso County District Court for age discrimination. He was terminated at age 47. The case was Flores v. Texas Department of Transportation. The state argued that he (the plaintiff) was fired due to his policy violations regarding a truck and for poor performance. The plaintiff alleged that at a meeting of district engineers there was a discussion that the workforce for the department was getting too old. The plaintiff also claimed that other workers over 40 were subject to discipline, transfer, forced retirement, or termination. He alleged that these actions occurred around the time of his own termination and that he was replaced by younger workers.
At trial earlier this year, the plaintiff sought back pay, front pay, past employment benefits, and compensatory damages. The jury found in favor of the plaintiff on his age discrimination claim and awarded him damages of over $254,000.
Our Employment Attorneys May be Able to Help You with a Discrimination or Retaliation Claim
The attorneys at our firm had no involvement in either of the discrimination cases discussed above. All employment law cases are unique. If you would like to discuss the facts of your particular situation with an employment lawyer, we offer a free evaluation of the facts of your situation so you can understand it from a legal perspective. Click here to get started Contact Kilgore & Kilgore.