On Friday, June 29, 2012, the Texas Supreme Court, in a 6-3 ruling, dismissed an age discrimination lawsuit by Gloria Garcia. Garcia, a 48-year-old secretary, brought a lawsuit against her employer for being fired in 2003.
Gloria Garcia was employed at a South Texas school district and ultimately was replaced by a person three years older than her. Because of this, the court ruled that in most cases, employees do not have grounds to sue their employers if they were replaced by someone older.
The court, following U.S. Supreme Court precedent, asked Garcia from the start to establish her age discrimination claim. In order to do this, Garcia would have had to prove that her replacement was younger than she was at that time. Because she couldn’t do that, Justice Don Willet wrote, “…she is not entitled to a presumption of discrimination.”
However, evidence that the replacement was older does not disprove discrimination altogether. Because Garcia did not have any evidence, her case was dismissed at its early stages. However, the courts still will hear lawsuits by workers who have direct evidence of discrimination, even if they were replaced by older employees. This new standard will not stop lawsuits of this nature, but such lawsuits would be rare.
The court did establish a new burden in the employment setting, that a plaintiff must prove his or her age discrimination case from the start. If victims do not have necessary evidence or proof, the courts will not rule, but rather will dismiss the case.
Our Texas employment lawyers at the Posey Law Firm will continue to report on current rulings involving Texas employee and employer issues.