Austin Employment Attorney Argues Important Case Before Texas Supreme Court
Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) December 6, 2011 - The Texas Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in the case of Safeshred, Inc. v. Louis Martinez, III. At issue in the case is whether an employer can be held liable for punitive damages if it fires an employee for refusing to engage in an illegal act. Austin employment lawyer Gregory D. Jordan represents Martinez in this case.
Texas has long recognized that an employer cannot fire an employee for refusing to commit an illegal act. This exception to the employment at will doctrine has become known as the Sabine Pilot exception, in recognition of the case in which this law was created. Until now, however, the Texas Supreme Court had never decided whether an employee could collect punitive damages in a Sabine Pilot claim.
Austin employment attorney Jordan notes, “Abusive conduct that promotes illegal activity must be deterred. The only effective way to deter such devastating conduct is with the threat of punitive damages. Safeshred needs to be held responsible for trying to force an employee to do something illegal that jeopardized him and the driving public.”
Martinez was a lower paid driver of an 18-wheeler for Safeshred who was fired when he refused to haul a load of 20’ long steel uprights and steel shelves that were illegally loaded on a flatbed trailer. Martinez would not haul the illegal load because he felt it presented a serious risk to the driving public and himself.
Safeshred fired Martinez and then hired another driver to haul the illegal load. When the load was hauled, it broke free and crashed through the cab of the 18-wheeler. Martinez sued Safeshred for wrongfully terminating him for refusing to haul the illegal load.
Austin employment lawyer Jordan successfully represented Martinez at trial. The trial court entered a judgment against Safeshred that included approximately $7,500.00 for lost wages and $200,000.00 for punitive damages. The Austin Court of Appeals affirmed those parts of the judgment and Safeshred appealed again to the Texas Supreme Court.
“Safeshred acted with malice in firing Mr. Martinez,” said Jordan. “It further acted with total disregard for the health and safety of Mr. Martinez and the public when it told Mr. Martinez to haul the illegal and unsafe load. It needs to be held responsible.”
The Law Offices of Gregory D. Jordan represents both employees and employers in employment litigation matters. To learn more about the Austin employment lawyer and Austin business lawyer Gregory D. Jordan, please go to www.theaustintriallawyer.com or call (512) 419-0684.
Law Offices of Gregory D. Jordan
5608 Parkcrest Drive, Suite 310
Austin, Texas 78731
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