Hartline Dacus Attorneys Defend Restaurant in Discrimination Case and Win Unanimous Jury Verdict

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Texas Roadhouse won a recent lawsuit brought by a former employee claiming discrimination based on religious beliefs.

Hartline Dacus Barger Dreyer LLP today announced a unanimous jury verdict in defense of Texas Roadhouse, a national restaurant company. A former employee accused the restaurant company of discrimination based on his religious beliefs, according to court documents. He claimed the management of the Corpus Christi, Texas Roadhouse had forced him to work on Sundays in violation of his religious beliefs. He sued for reinstatement, back pay, mental anguish damages and attorney’s fees.

“Texas Roadhouse has been committed to the well-being of its employees since opening the first restaurant in 1993. The company has a culture that values and appreciates each team member, and it was clear to us that this former employee had no real basis for his claims of discrimination,” said Albert Holl, an attorney with the Corpus Christi office of Hartline Dacus Barger Dreyer LLP.

Court documents show that the former employee claimed he had put the Texas Roadhouse on notice of his beliefs at the time of hire and that the restaurant agreed to accommodate him by never scheduling him to work on Sundays. Texas Roadhouse representatives disputed this statement and acknowledged that while this former employee was routinely scheduled off on Sundays and Mondays, Texas Roadhouse required all employees to work on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, two of the restaurant’s highest-volume days of the year. The plaintiff claimed that after agreeing to work three previous holiday Sundays out of fear of losing his job, he refused to come to work for a scheduled shift on Father’s Day of 2008 and was fired for it. Texas Roadhouse countered that on all of the holidays at issue, the plaintiff agreed to come to work and was even permitted to come in later than scheduled to attend services at his church.

The Court instructed the jury to consider three questions before getting to damages: 1) Was the plaintiff terminated? 2) If so, was religion a motivating factor in the decision to fire him? 3) Even if his religious beliefs were a motivating factor, was there an undue hardship defense that would relieve the defendant from being required to accommodate those religious beliefs?

During the course of investigating the case, attorneys Albert Holl and Rick Waterhouse of Hartline Dacus Barger Dreyer LLP were able to uncover admissible information concerning the plaintiff’s spotty employment history, according to court records. This information was critical in undermining the plaintiff’s credibility during the trial. The defense called Texas Roadhouse management and several employees to rebut the plaintiff’s claims and was able to introduce key documents supporting the defense position that the plaintiff had abandoned his job and was not terminated.

Following a three-day trial in Nueces County, Texas, the jury of one man and five women returned a complete defense verdict on June 22, 2011.

Hartline Dacus Barger Dreyer LLP is a Texas-based litigation firm with offices in Dallas, Corpus Christi, and Houston. The firm’s 33 attorneys pride themselves on providing uncompromising excellence to their clients in a variety of litigation areas, including product liability, commercial litigation, class action and multidistrict litigation, intellectual property, personal injury defense, premises liability, labor and employment, insurance coverage, healthcare, construction and dealer/franchise litigation. For more information about Hartline Dacus Barger Dreyer LLP, visit http://www.hdbdlaw.com.

Based in Louisville, Kentucky, Texas Roadhouse opened its doors in 1993. In just 18 years, Texas Roadhouse has grown to more than 330 locations in 46 states. The company is famous for hand-cut steaks, made-from-scratch sides, fresh-baked bread, and its lively atmosphere. In 2007 and 2008 Forbes magazine ranked the company as one of the 200 Best Small Companies and in 2009 the company was ranked “Best Value” by readers of Consumer Reports magazine. For more information, visit http://www.texasroadhouse.com.

SOURCE: Hartline Dacus Barger Dreyer LLP
Cause Number: 10-61195-4
Court: County Court at Law No. 4 in Nueces County, Texas

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