Firing a Worker After a Back Injury In Texas

In Terry v. Southern Floral Co., 927 S.W.2d 254 (Tex.App.Houston [1st Dist.] 1996, no pet.), Terry claimed that she was discharged by her employer in retaliation for filing a worker's compensation claim. Approximately ten months after Terry suffered a back injury and was unable to work, Southern Floral terminated her, but informed her that she would be given first preference for any available openings once she was given a medical release. Southern Floral did not have a specific absence-control policy in effect when Terry was terminated. Southern Floral moved for and was granted summary judgment. Terry's supervisor stated in her summary judgment affidavit that the Southern Floral sales accounts that Terry was responsible for required more attention. As the company had no indication when Terry would be able to return to work, the supervisor stated that Southern Floral was required to hire a replacement for Terry's position. Although Southern Floral did not have an absence-control policy, the court determined that Southern Floral's reason for terminating Terry was legitimate and non-discriminatory. Southern Floral, 927 S.W.2d at 258. Terry countered with her own affidavit and deposition testimony, but the court noted that she did not present evidence contradicting Southern Floral's claim and held that summary judgment in favor of Southern Floral was proper. Id. at 259.