Prerequisites Necessary for Bringing an Employment Dispute to Court

employment contract in a typewriter The area of employment law is made up of a myriad of type of claims (discrimination, harassment, worker’s compensation, whistleblower claims, etc.) and often a maze of federal, state and local statutes along with any governing law. Often, employees have to satisfy prerequisites prior to taking their case to court and their failure to do so may provide the employer with leverage to either dismiss or favorably resolve the claim.

Some of the prerequisites include:

  • Those found in Employment Contracts or are part of Company Policy – Frequently, employers today require employees to engage in some type of pre-suit alternative dispute resolution prior to, or even instead of, litigation. Both Texas and Federal law authorize mandatory arbitration agreement or mediation for virtually all types of claims. These contracts themselves can be attacked based on whether correct procedures were followed in enacting the requirements or on the grounds that the agreements are illusory or unconscionable. If valid, however, the employee will be required to meet the contracted for mediation or arbitration agreement.
  • Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation Claims – If the claim arises out of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act, an employee must exhaust their administrative remedies as a prerequisite to filing suit based on discrimination or harassment with respect to race, national origin, sex, religion, disability, age, or retaliation claims under the statutes.Further, the employee must include all of their claims in the pre-suit administrative proceeding since any later filed case will be limited in scope by the pre-suit administrative claim. The deadlines for administrative claims can be very short, especially in comparison to traditional statutes of limitations. For instance, to preserve a discrimination or retaliation claim, an employee must file a charge with the Texas Workforce Commission within 180 days of the last discriminatory or retaliatory act and with the EEOC within 300 days to preserve any state or federal claims, respectively.
  • Whistleblower Claims – Private whistleblower claims in Texas generally center around an employee’s termination for failure to perform an illegal act. There is a Texas Whistleblower Act that provides protections for government employees. At the federal level, OSHA oversees most of the whistleblower protection programs, from those authorized by the Occupational Health and Safety Act itself to the Affordable Care Act, the Sarbanes Oxley legislation, and the Federal Railroad Safety Act. Different time periods govern these claims so it is important to seek counsel as soon as practical when pursing these claims.

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Please contact Shaw Cowart LLP using the form on this page or call 512-499-8900 today to schedule a complimentary consultation. We serve clients in the Austin, Texas area.

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