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After-acquired evidence may be crucial

In a Texas wrongful termination case, the term "after-acquired evidence" might refer to evidence gathered by the company after the employee has been fired. It's common in these cases for the employer to look for valid reasons for termination in the employee's history, in anticipation of a complaint or after the complaint has been filed.

The Supreme Court addressed the issue of after-acquired evidence in 1995, finding that it would not prevent the employee from proving discrimination, but that it could limit the type or amount of relief available to the employee. After-acquired evidence can limit the potential money damages available and give the court reasons not to require reinstatement or front pay.

When there is a potential claim of discrimination, employers often scour work records in search of misconduct or mistakes. Employers might talk to coworkers and look with criticism on previous job performance. The court may demand evidence from the employer of instances when similarly-situated employees were treated similarly. After-acquired evidence may be used to corroborate legitimate reasons for termination, so it can be devastating to plaintiffs in some cases.

In cases where an after-acquired evidence defense is raised, an employer's claim for back pay may be limited to the period between termination and when it discovered evidence of any valid reason for termination. If no such defense is raised, the employee may be entitled to payment until he or she gets a new job. An attorney with experience in employment law may be able help individuals who feel they've been discriminated against at work. An attorney may be able to analyze the facts of the situation and offer advice regarding the legal claims available to the client.

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