Don’t assume that just because your company is not located in Texas, you can’t be sued in the state. As long as your company employs someone in Texas, that’s enough.
Recent case: Robert worked for an Ohio company selling its products in Texas and adjacent states. He worked out of his home office in Houston. Robert was a valuable salesperson, earning an employee-of-the-year award—before he was summarily terminated.
Robert’s wife had skin cancer but was in recovery. Then she developed lymphoma and began receiving specialty treatment in Houston. Two days after Robert told high-level corporate managers about her condition, he was fired.
He sued in federal court in Houston, alleging his employer had violated the ADA by firing him and terminating his health benefits after learning that his wife would have to undergo costly medical treatments.
The company argued that it couldn’t be sued in Texas and that it was too inconvenient for it to have to show up in Texas. The court didn’t buy either argument. Just having a Texas employee was enough and the inconvenience to company employees was nothing compared to the inconvenience Robert and his wife would experience if they had to travel to Ohio for trial. (Stuart v. Fire-Dex, No. 13-675, SD TX, 2013)
Final note: Before terminating someone who really needs the medical benefits you provide, consider the bad PR doing so may create.
- The Dirty Dozen: Manager mistakes that spark lawsuits
- When employee files nonsense lawsuit, leave the legal maneuvering to your attorney
- In layoffs, keep FMLA leave out of performance rankings
- Train supervisors on new risk of workplace retaliation
- Employment law 101: Beware firing immediately after employee returns from FMLA leave