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Vasquez v. Bannworths, Inc.

Texas Supreme Court
707 S.W.2d 886 (1986)


Facts

Maria Vasquez (plaintiff) was employed by Bannworths, Inc. (Bannworths) (defendant) as a farm worker beginning in 1973. In 1982, Vasquez sought assistance through the United Farm Workers (UFW) union to become a permanent resident of the United States. Vasquez then joined the UFW. Subsequently, Vasquez told UFW about Bannworths employees’ working conditions. Specifically, Vasquez reported that the employees were forced to share a common drinking cup and that the portable bathrooms provided by Bannworths were filthy and did not meet the minimum health and sanitation standards promulgated by the Texas Health Commissioner. After Vasquez’s report, sanitation engineers from the Hidalgo County Health Department went to Bannworths’ fields to inspect the bathrooms. Later that same day, Bannworths fired Vasquez. Vasquez brought suit against Bannworths, alleging that she had been discriminated against for her UFW membership. Vasquez sought damages for lost wages and an injunction that would order her reinstatement and restrain Bannworths from violating the Texas Right-to-Work Act (Act) in the future. The Act prohibited employers from denying employees the right to work based on membership or non-membership in a union. The jury found that Vasquez had been fired due to her union membership and further found that Bannworths would continue to injure Vasquez in violation of the Act. The jury awarded Vasquez $3,000 for her lost wages. Based on the jury’s finding of fact and on the recognition that Vasquez would suffer irreparable injury without an adequate remedy at law, the trial judge enjoined Bannworths from future termination, suspension, or other discrimination or threat against Vasquez based on her UFW membership. However, the trial judge did not order Vasquez’s reinstatement and instead conditioned its injunction on Bannworths’ voluntary rehiring of Vasquez. Vasquez appealed, arguing that the trial court had abused its discretion by failing to order her reinstatement. The court of appeals affirmed, and Vasquez appealed to the Texas Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (McGee, J.)

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