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Release of employment contracts contested in Texas lawsuit

As might be expected, any employment-related lawsuit will likely involve an investigation. As a result, both parties in the suit will likely all relevant documentation. However, in one Texas lawsuit it has been an uphill battle to get copies of employment contracts. They are being withheld from the party requesting them, although for how long is uncertain.

The lawsuit involves the housing authority for a Texas city. The former chief of security for the authority filed a wrongful termination suit against the authority. The attorney representing the former employee requested copies of all employment contracts, as well as reimbursement records, between the housing authority and its CEO beginning in Jan. 2010. The request claims that the documents should be a matter of public record.

In response, the housing authority requested that the attorney general rule that the documents may remain private because they purportedly relate to pending litigation, even though the original request made no mention of the lawsuit. However, the authority failed to include copies of the documents at the heart of the case, as required. As a result, the attorney general ruled that this failure implies they are already public, and the law protecting documents related to a lawsuit is discretionary in nature. As such, the release of the documents was ordered.

The housing authority continues to contest the release of the documents, including the employment contracts, by fighting the attorney general's ruling in court. The authority has declined to make any other comments regarding the case at this time. Anyone in Texas who has been a victim of wrongful termination has the option of seeking legal recourse in a civil court. As a result of the decision to pursue such litigation, he or she may need access to documents that will support his or her claims. Due to the complexity surrounding such litigation, especially when the case involves the release of information from a government entity, knowledge of the laws that may affect the release of certain information could play an important role in successfully arguing a case.

Source: newspapertree.com, McAllen Housing Authority files suit to keep CEO contract and financial documents from public view, Alberto Tomas Halpern, Jan. 14, 2014

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