Texas Supreme Court Rules in Discrimination Matter

05/03/2015 // Dallas, Texas, United States // Attorney Keith Clouse // Keith Clouse // (press release)

The Texas Supreme Court recently ruled for an employer in a discrimination matter. San Antonio Water Sys. v. Nicholas, No. 13-0966 (Tex. Apr. 24, 2015), available at http://www.txcourts.gov/media/943998/130966.pdf.

The Texas Commission on Human Rights Act protects employees from retaliation when those employees oppose discriminatory employment practices. Here, the employee contended that she was terminated because she confronted a male employee about his repeated lunch invitations to two female employees who worked outside his department. She won a jury trial, and this ruling was affirmed by the intermediate appellate court.

The Texas Supreme Court reversed. Opposition to a discriminatory practice is a protected activity even if the underlying discrimination claim ultimately fails. But, to establish that an employee opposed a discriminatory practice, the employee must demonstrate a good-faith, reasonable belief that the underlying discriminatory practice violated the TCHRA. The Court concluded that no reasonable person could have believed the lunch invitations gave rise to an actionable sexual harassment claim. Because of this, the plaintiff’s opposition to the invitations could not be considered opposition to a discriminatory employment practice and thus could not be considered protected activity under the TCHRA. Accordingly, her claim failed.

This article is presented by the Dallas employment attorneys at Clouse Dunn LLP. To speak to an employment law attorney, send an email to [email protected] or call (214) 239-2705.

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