Employment Law Alert: What’s age got to do with it?

The Texas Supreme Court, in Mission Consolidated Independent School District. v. Gloria Garcia, recently issued an important decision for Texas employers.  The Court held that an employee who was fired and replaced by an older employee could not proceed with her lawsuit based on age discrimination.  While this outcome may seem obvious, prior to this case, lower courts allowed such lawsuits.

Despite being replaced by an older employee, Ms. Garcia sued Mission School District alleging that her termination was because of her age.  The legal standards appeared to allow her to bring her suit, but the Texas Supreme Court clarified that, unless she had “direct evidence” that she was fired because of her age, the fact that she was replaced by an older employee precluded her claim.

The Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision in Mission means that, for the most part, successful suits concerning age discrimination will involve a plaintiff who has been replaced by a younger employee. 

Although the Supreme Court did not address any type of discrimination claim other than age, the Mission case may also have broader ramifications in the employment law context.  For example, employers who are sued for gender or race-based discrimination, and who replace the terminated employee with an employee of the same gender or race, could potentially assert a defense based on Mission.

For more information regarding this Texas Supreme Court decision, discrimination claims, or any other employment law related questions, please contact the head of GDHM’s Employment Law group, Susan Burton, at [email protected], or 512.480.5738.

Notice: We are providing this client alert as a commentary on current legal issues, and it should not be considered legal advice, which depends on the facts of each situation.  Receipt of this client alert does not establish an attorney-client relationship.  The listed attorneys and / or other attorneys may provide services in connection with a particular matter.