The Texas Supreme Court recently substituted a new opinion for its previous decision concerning wage claims made pursuant to the Texas Payday Law. In Igal v. Brightstar Information Technology Group, Inc., __ S.W.3d __ (Tex. May 2, 2008), the Court held that a final adjudication by the Texas Workforce Commission (“TWC”) denying recovery of wages prevents a claimant from filing a lawsuit to recover the same damages.
Saleh Igal filed a wage claim with the TWC. The TWC concluded that Igal’s claim failed on the merits and that the TWC lacked jurisdiction because Igal filed his claim too late. Instead of seeking a rehearing or judicial review of the TWC’s decision, Igal sued his former employer in Texas state court for the unpaid wages.
The Court first found that the TWC had jurisdiction to decide the wage claim. It then examined whether res judicata should bar Igal’s lawsuit. Res judicata bars the relitigation of claims that have been finally adjudicated in a prior action. The Court concluded that res judicata barred Igal’s lawsuit because the necessary elements were present: The TWC acted in a judicial capacity when determining the wage claim and the parties had adequate opportunity to litigate their claims through an adversarial process in which the TWC decided disputed issues of fact.
Contributed by: Keith Clouse – Dallas Employment Lawyer – To discuss a potential Texas Payday Law claim with an employment lawyer, please contact Texas employment lawyers at Clouse Dunn Khoshbin LLP at [email protected]