Directed verdict proper in Ex-TxDOT employee’s age and national origin case

Moreno v. Texas Department of Transportation, 08-12-00078-CV (Tex. App. – El Paso, December 18, 2013).

In this wrongful-termination action, Moreno appeals the trial court’s directed take-nothing judgment in favor of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).  The Eighth Court of Appeals affirmed.

Moreno worked for TxDOT for 15 years. When his longtime supervisor retired, his successor was critical of Moreno. Additionally, employees on a new project accused Moreno of being abusive, which an internal audit confirmed. Moreno was terminated and he brought suit alleging age discrimination (he was 49 and replaced by a 32 year old), national origin discrimination and due process.

The court first address the exclusion of some evidence of different national origins who were not disciplined for more egregious conduct, but the court held the submission was not made within the rules of evidence or preserved. The directed verdict was proper since Moreno did not offer any evidence showing TxDOT management was motivated because of his age.  Further he did not present evidence to support his argument that his replacement, while Hispanic, was not of Mexican ancestry. Finally, Moreno did not have a property right in his at-will employment at TxDOT so no due process claim is present. As a result, the directed verdict in favor of TxDOT was affirmed.

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