Today, the Texas Supreme Court held in Texas Central Appraisal District v. Diane Norman that, even though it had previously held in 1995 in City of LaPorte v. Barfield, 898 S.W.2d 288 (Tex. 1995) that governmental immunity had been waived by the State for suits by employees for worker’s compensation retaliatiion, the State did not waive it. So, for 16 years state and other governmental workers have been able to sue their government employer for retaliation for filing a worker’s compensation claim; however, now suddenly they no longer can. This was done by the Texas Supreme Court without any express action by the State Legislature. The Court simply held that laws passed by the State after Barfield meant that the State no longer clearly waived immunity. The Norman case released today will cause hundreds of cases by state employees to be dismissed, as was Diane Norman’s case. All of these cases were filed by state employees who believed because of prior rulings by the Texas Supreme Court 16 years ago, that they had every right to file these suits. Thousands of dollars and hours have now been wasted because the Texas Supreme Court has suddenly become an “activist” Supreme Court to rule in an area that had been previously settled and not clearly ruled out by the Legislature. Now, thousands of Texas governmental workers are no longer protected from illegal discrimination by their governmental employers and can be fired at will because they filed a worker’s compensation claim. These workers will have to wait two more years until the next Legislative session in order to have any hope of getting the Legislature to pass a law making clear that sovereign immunity has been waived as to the anti-retaliation statute.
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