In 2019, the attorneys at Wiley Walsh, P.C. acted as lead counsel in two federal jury trials and one arbitration. With help by attorneys from Wiley Wheeler, P.C. on the jury trials and help by attorneys from Rob Wiley, P.C., our clients prevailed in all three proceedings. We also co-counseled with the EEOC in a case that resulted in a cutting-edge consent decree against a major airline involving online sexual harassment.
In 2020, despite a pandemic, shelter-at-home-orders, and the closing of the courts to in person proceedings, we did even better. Although, there were no trials, our appellate docket was very successful.
And it started right away. First, on January 7, the Administrative Review Board reversed summary judgment against one of our clients asserting retaliation under the Surface Transportation Assistance Act. We alleged that our client was retaliated against by a trucking company for reporting safety issues. The Administrative Review Board held that our client was entitled to a full hearing on the merits. That hearing is currently scheduled for April 2021.
Another appellate victory came in June, when the Fifth Circuit partially reversed summary judgment against our client on a Section 1981 race discrimination claim against the Edwards County Sheriff’s Department. That case is now back at the trial court awaiting rulings on a second round of motions before being set for a jury trial.
Despite the pandemic, I presented two oral arguments via zoom videoconferencing at the Fifth Circuit. Less than a third of appeals filed with the Fifth Circuit are granted oral argument. I am proud to say that I have received oral argument in all of my Fifth Circuit appeals except for one. The first oral argument that occurred this year was in June. I along with attorney Austin Campbell presented an issue of first impression regarding whether certain types of whistleblower claims could be compelled to arbitration. When the decision came down on October 2 in that case, we prevailed on one of our claims. The second oral argument occurred on December 2, 2020. In that case, I argued whether or not a doctor could hold a hospital liable under Title VII and Section 1981 for race discrimination. A decision in that case is expected in the early part of next year.
At the state appellate level, Attorney Jairo Castellanos was exceptionally successful, prevailing in all three of the appeals he worked on. First, he was able to reverse a plea to the jurisdiction against our client in whistleblower case involving the Dallas Independent School District. In that case, our client alleged that he had been terminated for reporting certain conduct to CPS, including that teacher inappropriately touched a student. DISD argued that our client had not properly initiated an internal grievance before filing suit. The Dallas Court of Appeals disagreed and reversed judgment against our client.
Two months, Mr. Castellanos prevailed again. This time, he won confirmation of the arbitration award he had obtained the previous year. The employer had asked the Court of Appeals to throw out the judgment against it. The Corpus Christi Court of Appeals refused to throw out the award and confirmed a six-figure judgment in favor of our client.
Two months after that, Mr. Castellanos won his third appeal. On December 10, the Austin Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s denial of a plea to the jurisdiction finding there was a fact issue regarding whether or not our client was terminated because of his whistleblower reports about patient abuse at the Terrell State Hospital.
In 2020, we also received several honors for our work. In April, one of our jury verdicts from 2019 was listed as one of the top jury verdicts in the state of Texas for that year. In that same month, I was also once again named a Texas Rising Star by Super Lawyers Magazine, a Thomson Reuters publication. In July, both Mr. Castellanos and I were named two of Austin’s Top Attorneys in employment law by Austin Monthly Magazine.
2020 was definitely different. The pandemic changed everything, including the nature of employment, employers’ responsibilities towards employees, and even the nature of work itself. But as the above shows, Wiley Walsh, P.C. was able to keep fighting for employee rights and looks forward to continuing to do that this year.
If you have experienced discrimination or retaliation at work, please contact an employment lawyer to discuss your options.