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Hawthorne v. Star Enterprise, Inc – Case Brief Summary (Texas)

In Hawthorne v. Star Enterprise, Inc., 45 S.W.3d 757, 761-62 (Tex. App.--Texarkana 2001, pet. denied), the employer issued a standing order to employees that they physically smell water samples to determine whether hazardous materials had been removed. Id. at 758.

Hawthorne refused the order, directed his subordinates not to comply with it, and then reported the order to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Hawthorne was then terminated by the employer. Id. at 759.

The trial court granted the employer's motion for summary judgment based on Hawthorne's testimony that he was fired not only for refusing to commit an illegal act, but also for reporting the order to OSHA. Id.

The court of appeals reversed the summary judgment, concluding that Hawthorne's report of the illegal order was not a separate act but instead was a continuation of his initial refusal. Id. at 761.