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February 2013

Dallas Team Wins Summary Judgment in Employment Lawsuit

On Jan. 23, 2013, Gordon & Rees partner Bob Bragalone and senior counsel Margaret Mead won summary judgment on behalf of client Peaches Uniforms Inc. in a case in which a former employee alleged age/sex discrimination, breach of implied contract, defamation, promissory estoppel, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and intentional misrepresentation.

The plaintiff worked for Peaches Uniforms, a Texas corporation, in Dallas for 20 years. The plaintiff was allowed to move to Illinois in 1995, then to Iowa in 2001, and to California in 2007 and to work remotely from those locations. The plaintiff moved for personal reasons unrelated to her employment. When she moved to California in August 2007, she asked Peaches to provide an employment verification letter to her mortgage company. The plaintiff was subsequently discharged and sued to recover in excess of $400,000 in lost wages.

The plaintiff argued that the employment verification letter was partial proof of her change in status from "at will" to an implied promise of continued employment.

Gordon & Rees removed the case to federal court, successfully argued that Texas law applied to the plaintiff’s claims, and then prevailed on the motion for summary judgment, securing a judgment that the plaintiff remained an at-will employee, and that no actionable promises had been made with respect to her employment. The U.S. District Court further found that there was no admissible evidence of defamatory statements, and that many of the alleged statements were time-barred.

This result marks the second summary judgment the Dallas office has won for this client in the past two years in lawsuits filed by former employees.

Robert A. Bragalone