Plaintiff was aware of facts which would have led a reasonable person to inquire as to why she was not hired but waited until TWC deadline passed; court properly granted plea to the jurisdiction

Sheryl Taylor v. State of Texas and Texas Department of Criminal Justice 11-13-00207-CV (Tex. App. –Eastland, July 24, 2015)

This is a retaliation case brought under the Texas Labor Code in which the Eastland Court of Appeals affirmed the granting of the Department’s plea to the jurisdiction.

Taylor resigned her position with the Department of Criminal Justice (“Department”) and originally brought discrimination charges centered on a particular supervisor. However, she did not pursue the charges to conclusion. When she discovered the supervisor was retiring she reapplied for her position as a sociologist. The supervisor was on the hiring panel and wrote a comment attacking her integrity and honesty. However, Taylor did not discover the comment until a year after she was told she would not be rehired. She brought suit for retaliation and the Department filed a plea to the jurisdiction which was granted.

To exhaust her administrative remedies, Taylor would have had to file her retaliation charge within 180 days of the alleged wrongful practice. Taylor argued the discovery rule applied to this deadline. The court noted no case law supported that assertion, however, even if they were to assume the discovery rule applied, Taylor still failed to properly follow the procedure. The issue is not when she learned of the alleged acts, but when she “knew of facts, conditions, or circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to make inquiry leading to discovery of her cause of action.”  She learned she was not to be rehired in 2010, but waited until almost a year later to filed a Public Information Act request which led to her discovery of the supervisor’s comments. She knew, or should have known, of facts that in the exercise of reasonable diligence would have led to the discovery of her injury, (i.e. the decision not to rehire her). As a result, she failed to exhaust her administrative remedies. Finally, the court held the trial court is not required to make findings of fact and conclusions of law in a case such as this based on a plea to the jurisdiction.

If you would like to read this opinion click here. Panel: Chief Justice Wright, Justice Willson and Justice Bailey.  Memorandum Opinion by Chief Justice Wright.  The attorneys listed for the State of Texas are Harold Joseph Liller, Cynthia Burton, and Allan K. Cook.  Taylor appeared pro se.

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