Texas Causes of Action & Affirmative Defenses

Texas Causes of Action & Affirmative Defenses

Need a little legal ammo? Search for caselaw on legal theories and defenses here:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Employment Discrimination claims under state law (Texas Labor Code, formerly TCHRA): Complaint must be timely filed with TWC

   
Deadline for filing administrative charge against employer with the Texas Workforce Commission’s Civil Rights Division is rather unforgiving. Missed deadline generally precludes law suit, i.e. will typically result in dismissal if the complaining employee goes ahead and files a lawsuit anyhow. 
    
EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION CLAIM UNDER STATE LAW - ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURE  
  
Under Chapter 21 of the Texas LaborCode, a person must file a complaint with the TWC [Texas Workforce Commission] no later than the 180th day after the allegedly unlawful employment practice took place. See TEX. LAB. CODE ANN. § 21.202 (West 2006). If the complaint is untimely, the commission must dismiss it. Id.
   
When does the 180-day period start to run?
   
Furthermore, ―[t]he limitations period begins when the employee is informed of the allegedly discriminatory employment decision, not when that decision comes to fruition.‖ Specialty Retailers, Inc. v. DeMoranville, 933 S.W.2d 490, 493 (Tex. 1996). During the claims process, the TWC investigates allegations and determines whether there is ―reasonable cause to believe the employer violated the Texas anti-discrimination law,‖ in order to promote resolution. City of Waco v. Lopez, 259 S.W.3d 147, 154 (Tex. 2008).
  
These detailed administrative procedures are mandatory pre-requisites for a plaintiff to bring a chapter 21 action to court. See Waffle House, Inc. v. Williams, 313 S.W.3d 796, 804–05 (Tex. 2010) (noting that administrative remedies and procedures must be exhaustedprior to litigation of statutory employment claims); see also Lueck v. State, 325 S.W.3d 752, 762 (Tex. App.—Austin 2010, pet. filed). If a complainant fails to comply with these administrative procedures, the courts are deprived ofsubject-matter jurisdiction. Lopez, 259 S.W.3d at 154.
   
SOURCE: CORPUS CHRISTI - EDINBURG COURT OF APPEALS - 13-10-00379-CV – 12/8/11
[Plaintiff] argues that because his EEOC complaint was timely filed with the federal agency, and suit was brought well within the ninety days to file suit required by the EEOC, the trial court has jurisdiction over his causes of action. Again, we disagree. Not only did [Plaintiff]  file suit in state court before the EEOC even took action on his complaint, but also an EEOC right to sue letter cannot be substituted for a TWC right-to-sue letter. See Jones v. Grinnell Corp., 235 F.3d 972, 974 (5th Cir. 2001). We agree with the Grinnell Court that to hold otherwise would ―upset the intricate interplay between the federal and state anti-discrimination agencies.‖ Id. at 975.
IV. CONCLUSION
We affirm the trial court’s granting of Del Mar’s plea to the jurisdiction.

SOURCE: THIRTEENTH COURT OF APPEALS - CORPUS CHRISTI / EDINBURG  - 13-10-00379-CV – 12/8/11