TCAA, in conjunction with the Texas Municipal League, files amicus briefs and comments in support of cities on many issues. To keep up to date on the status of these issues, go to http://www.tml.org/p/docs/amicus.pdf.
Sexual Harassment Retaliation: San Antonio Water Sys. v. Nicholas, No. 13-0966 in the Supreme Court of Texas. TML and TCAA filed a brief in this case on January 12, 2015. This case concerns a sexual harassment retaliation claim by Nicholas, a former SAWS employee. Nicholas sued SAWS after she was terminated during a reorganization. She argued that her termination was retaliation for a counseling session she had with an executive regarding possible sexual harassment claims of two other employees three years earlier. The trial court granted a verdict of over one million dollars in Nicholas’ favor, including over $700,000 in future compensatory damages. The court of appeals affirmed. SAWS appealed to the Supreme Court of Texas. SAWS’s main argument at the Supreme Court is that there was legally insufficient evidence of Nicholas’ belief that she was dealing with sexual harassment claims when she counseled the executive. The TML and TCAA brief focused on two issues: the need for statutory caps in employment retaliation cases based on the large future compensatory damages award given to Nicholas and whether legal sufficiency can be raised at the appellate level as it arguably was not raised at the trial level and may have not been adequately raised at the appellate level. Oral argument was heard on January 13, 2015.
Electric Rate Case Discovery Limitations: Public Utilities Commission Docket No. 42330, Rulemaking to propose new procedural rule 22.146, relating to limitations on discovery in rate proceedings. In this proposed rule, the Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC) proposes discovery limitations that would limit city participation in electric rate cases. Some in the industry argue that the city intervention process is “inefficient,” and that the PUC should “streamline” the process. TML argued that city intervention almost always protects consumers by lowering the rate increases sought by electric utilities. TML joined the Cities of Houston and El Paso, the Alliance of Local Regulatory Authorities, the Steering Committee of Cities Served by Oncor, and a number of consumer groups in submitting comments in opposition to the proposed rules. The comments were filed on December 22, 2014.