Another Court Follows SOX Whistleblower Standard Established by McKinney Law Firm Client

I had the privilege this year of being a part of the team of lawyers representing the plaintiff in Wallace v. Tesoro. The opinion issued in favor of our client by the Fifth Circuit in that case created very positive law for SOX whistleblowers around the country. And now other whistleblowers from around the country are starting to use the decision to their advantage.

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Victory for Whistleblower Represented by McKinney Law Firm In the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals

We are very pleased to report a recent victory for a whistleblower client. A unanimous panel of the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals issued a decision last Friday reinstating Plaintiff Kevin Wallace’s Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) whistleblower claim against Tesoro Corp. 

A unanimous panel of the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals issued a decision last Friday reinstating Plaintiff Kevin Wallace’s Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) whistleblower claim against Tesoro Corp. 

Wallace worked for the petroleum company Tesoro as Vice President of Pricing and Commercial Analysis. He discovered structural flaws in Tesoro’s accounting system that garbled important financial results and tax reporting used by management, the Board of Directors, and Tesoro’s public filings. Wallace confirmed his findings with company experts and reported them internally. On March 12, 2010, Wallace reported internally that he was being retaliated against by management. He was fired within hours of this report.

The district court had previously dismissed the case based on several procedural motions filed by Tesoro. Tesoro argued that the case needed to be plead pursuant to FRCP 9(b)'s strict fraud pleading requirements. Tesoro also argued that the lawsuit raised factual issues that had not been presented with particularity to OSHA (the administrative agency charged with conducting initial investigation into SOX charges).

The Fifth Circuit reversed the dismissal and remanded the case back to district court for further proceedings and discovery.

Download: Wallace v. Tesoro Corp., No. 13-51010 (5th Cir. 7-31-2015).

Read more about the case here.


Chris Speaks to LXBN-TV About Ebola in the Workplace

Chris had the opportunity to speak with Colin O'Keefe of LXBNTV on employees being terminated over Ebola. In the brief video interview, Chris shares what he's been hearing on these firings and offers a bit of guidance to employers and employees on dealing with Ebola concerns.

Chris McKinney speaks with Colin O'Keefe of LXBN TV.


Chris McKinney Interviewed By WOAI-TV Regarding Ebola In The Workplace

Well, it has happened already. The firm is getting calls from employees who have been terminated or fear termination because their employers are afraid they may have contracted Ebola during recent trips to the African continent.

I was interviewed this week on WOAI-TV regarding this issue. Here's the video:


You can read more about this story at our employment law blog here.

EEOC Sues Taprite Fassco for Sex and Disability Discrimination and Retaliation

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") has filed suit against Taprite Fassco Manufacturing, Inc., a San Antonio-based supplier of CO2 regulators in the soda and beer industries, in a case related to a similar case recently filed against the same employer by The McKinney Law Firm. Here is a copy of the EEOC's press release regarding their filing.

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -Taprite Fassco Manufacturing, Inc., a San Antonio-based supplier of CO2 regulators in the soda and beer industries, violated several federal anti-discrimination laws in its treatment of one of its quality control inspectors, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today. The EEOC said the company subjected the woman to gender and disability discrimination and unlawfully retaliated against her for complaining.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, after the quality control inspector, a longtime employee, raised questions to management concerning wage disparity between the sexes among workers at Taprite Fassco's San Antonio plant, management disciplined and demoted her into a less favorable and lower paying assembler position. The employee was physically unable to perform the new job because of her diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome.

The EEOC also charged that Taprite Fassco denied requests for accommodations that would have permitted the employee to continue working, thus violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC said that even after she filed a complaint of discrimination alleging sex discrimination under both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act, Taprite Fassco opted to pay her male replacement (whom she initially trained) substantially more than she was compensated for performing essentially the same work.

The EEOC's San Antonio Field office filed suit (Civil Action No. 5:14-cv-00801) in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through the agency's administrative conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for the victim, as well as injunctive relief.

"Enforcing laws that require equal pay for men and women performing the same jobs is a priority for the EEOC," said David Rivela, senior trial attorney in the EEOC's San Antonio Field Office. "Our employment statutes also safeguard workers from reprisal when the employees address managers about potentially unlawful practices. The EEOC will vigorously prosecute employers who retaliate against employees for simply seeking answers about their opportunities and protections."

McKinney Law Firm Files First Amendment Lawsuit on Behalf of Client Against Gonzales County

The McKinney Law Firm has filed suit against Gonzales County, Texas on behalf of a client who alleges she was unlawfully terminated in retaliation for her exercise of her First Amendment Rights. 

The suit alleges that the Plaintiff's termination was in violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. 

The McKinney Law Firm filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas (Carole Rieley v. Gonzales County et al, Case No. 5:14-cv-00631).

You can download a copy of the Original Complaint here.


​Chris McKinney Testifies at Texas Legislature Re: Employment Law Issues

This week I travelled to Austin to address a committee of the Texas legislature, arguing in favor of a statutory amendment that would return legal rights to workplace victims of sexual assault and rape -- rights that were (improperly in my opinion) taken away by the Texas Supreme Court in 2011. It was a privilege to be asked to come speak to the committee about this important issue. The Representatives were very engaged and their questions were thoughtful. The bill may not make it to the floor this session for a vote but we won't rest until this gets fixed. It's just too important.

Chris McKinney Quoted in Story About Scooter Store Employee Furloughs

Chris McKinney was quoted in today's story in the San Antonio Express News regarding the DOJ investigation of the Scooter Store and its resulting lay offs of employees.

Any furlough that doesn’t have a return-to-work date for employees would be considered a “permanent layoff,” Texas Workforce Commission spokesman Mark Lavergne said in an email.

If workers haven’t been told a specific date for when they should return to work, they would be wise to consider applying for unemployment benefits, said San Antonio employment lawyer Christopher McKinney.

Lavergne added that those employees would have to search for new employment to qualify for unemployment benefits.

The Scooter Store faces “significant business challenges,” which were “exacerbated” by the raid, according to Landon’s email.

You can read the entire story here.


McKinney named to Texas Super Lawyers

Christopher McKinney has been chosen as one of only six plaintiff-side employment lawyers in the State of Texas to be identified by Texas Super Lawyers as a "Rising Star."   Candidates for the honor are determined by the organization through examination of 12 distinct categories of peer recognition and professional achievement, including: verdicts, settlements, experience, scholarly lectures and writings, honors and awards.

McKinney Law Firm Files Suit on Behalf of Executive Against Tesoro in Whistle-Blower Case

The Firm has filed a federal whistle-blower lawsuit against the refining company Tesoro on behalf of a former company executive who alleges he was fired in 2010 in retaliation for reporting financial irregularities at the company. 

Read more about this case in the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express News.