Continental Coffee Products v. Cazarez – Case Brief Summary (Texas)

In Continental Coffee Prods. Co. v. Cazarez, 937 S.W.2d 444, 40 Tex. Sup. Ct. J. 172 (Tex. 1996), the plaintiff was fired due to a violation of an attendance policy. Id. at 451-52.

The supreme court, finding that there was no evidence of ill-will, spite, or specific intent to harm, noted that the manager who fired the plaintiff based on the violation of the company's attendance policy had never met the plaintiff before firing her and had never reviewed her file. Id. at 454-55.

The Court examined the types of evidence that are legally sufficient to establish a causal link between an employer's termination of an employee and the employee's filing of a workers' compensation claim, thereby shifting the burden to the employer to show a legitimate reason for the termination. Id. at 450-51.

In Cazarez, the supreme court listed some types of circumstantial evidence that an employee can use to establish, as part of his prima facie case, a causal link between his termination and his filing of a workers' compensation claim. 937 S.W.2d at 451.

This includes evidence that:

(1) those making the decision to terminate an employee have knowledge of the workers' compensation claim;

(2) expression of a negative attitude toward the employee's injuries by those making the termination decision;

(3) a failure to adhere to established company policies;

(4) discriminatory treatment in comparison to other similarly-situated employees;

(5) evidence that the stated reason for the employee's termination was false. Id.