State Supreme Court: Employees Can’t Sue After Signing Waiver

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The Texas Supreme Court has ruled an employer can force a long-time worker to sign an agreement not to sue if they are fired. Then the business can fire the employee.

The case comes out of Fort Worth, where Frank Kent Cadillac forced a 28-year employee to sign a jury waiver, then fired him less than a year later.

In 2008 the dealership told long-time employee Steven Valdez he had to get on board with a new handbook provision that prohibited him from demanding a jury trial if he was ever fired.

KRLD’s L.P. Phillips Reports: 

Court documents show Valdez balked, so a supervisor flatly told him to sign it or he would be fired.

Valdez signed the waiver. And less than a year later he was gone.

He tried to sue, arguing that option amounted to coercion.

A trial judge agreed, but the Texas Supreme Court came down on the side of the dealership, saying Frank Kent has the right to force at-will employees to sign the waiver, and the right to fire them without being sued.

The high court says an employer has the right to force at-will workers to sign the waivers. And that the waivers protect the employer from a jury trial.

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One Comment

  1. Jacob says:

    Nucking Futs!

    1. Geffen says:

      No, its called “At Will Employment”. It might suck at times, but employers have the right to hire and fire you at will, period. Its their company so they should be able to determine who they want working and who they don’t want around.

  2. YRofTexas says:

    This is nothing more than a blackmail technique by corporate America to manipulate a Texas law into releasing employees without justification.
    I’ve personally witnessed companies releasing people under the guise of “layoff” for the following TRUE reasons:

    The employee is now too old (over 40 yrs old)
    too close to retirement
    personality doesn’t “fit” (although skills are adequate)
    to impress bosses and/or investors by removing ‘dead wood’
    a ‘friend’ wants the your job
    over-hired error

    And the list can go on indefinitely.

    As much as I believe and support the RIGHT TO WORK law, I have seen many times the misuse and abuse by corporate America. This law essentially over protects the corporate structure against the individual worker.

    And yet, I hate the Unions because they have historically abused their power, used bullying tactics against the very persons who pay “dues” to them, treat those who agree with management’s offers as “scabs” and illegally pressure/coerce members into voting specific ways.

    I am definitely between a rock and a hard place, but in this instance, the dealership was WRONG and the Supreme Court was WRONG. A fix is needed, but not by the way of the Unions we know today.


    The case is about a contractual waiver of the right to trial by jury, not a waiver of the right to file a lawsuit altogether. That leave a bench trial, i.e. a trial with the judge deciding all questions of law and disputed facts without a jury.

    Although the Supreme Court’s opinion discusses arbitration, the waiver at issue in this case only involved the jury waiver. Of course, an arbitration agreement precludes a jury trial also, but it goes farther, taking the resolution of the dispute out of the court system altogether. Not so in this case.

    Read the opinion here:

    In Re Frank Kent Motor Co., No. 10-0687 (Tex. March 9, 2012)(orig. proc.)
    IN RE FRANK KENT MOTOR COMPANY D/B/A FRANK KENT CADILLAC; from Tarrant County; 2nd district (02-10-00298-CV, ___ SW3d ___, 08-30-10)
    The Court conditionally grants the writ of mandamus.
    Justice Debra Lehrmann delivered the opinion of the Court.

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