Texas Court of Appeals Rules that Amendment to Federal Law Applies to Lawsuit Brought Under Texas State Law
A Texas court ruled that an amendment to the federal antidiscrimination law applies to the state law.
A Texas court ruled that an amendment to the federal antidiscrimination law applies to the state law. Prairie View A&M Univ. v. Chatha, No. 01-09-00840-CV (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.], April 1, 2010), available at http://www.1stcoa.courts.state.tx.us/opinions/HTMLopinion.asp?OpinionID=87650.
A plaintiff must file a charge of discrimination within 180 days after an alleged discriminatory employment practice occurs. In this compensation matter, the employer argued that the alleged adverse action occurred in 2004 when the plaintiff was promoted and paid at a lower pay rate than her peers, more than 180 days before she filed a charge in 2006.
The appellate court first noted both that the Texas antidiscrimination statute does not define the “occurrence” of an unlawful employment practice and that Texas courts look to federal courts for guidance on interpreting antidiscrimination laws. In 2009, Congress amended the federal antidiscrimination law to define an occurrence as including each time a person is affected by a discriminatory compensation decision, such as each time wages are paid. The appellate court applied this definition to the Texas law and found that the plaintiff’s charge was timely because the alleged unlawful employment practice included not only the original compensation decision but also each time the plaintiff was affected by it.
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