Texas Supreme Court Narrows Scope of State’s Whistleblower Statute

June 20, 2002

The Texas Supreme Court recently provided government employers some good news concerning retaliation claims made by employees under The Texas Whistleblower Statute, which applies solely to public sector employees. The statute prohibits government employers from taking adverse personnel action s (i.e. demotion, suspension, termination, etc.) against employees in retaliation for reporting legally inappropriate government activities.

The key issue in this landmark decision focused on the type of government entity that constitutes an “appropriate law enforcement agency” for purposes of receiving an employee's whistleblower report. Section 554.002(b) of the whistleblower statute defines an "appropriate law enforcement agency" as one that is authorized to regulate under and enforce “the law alleged to be violated in the report” or to investigate or prosecute "a violation of criminal law." Public employees have, over the last several years, argued for an increasingly broad interpretation of this definition, contending it encompasses public employers who possess the power to discipline employees for allegedly violating a law.

The Texas Supreme Court expressly rejected this argument, holding that the statutory definition does not include an employer’s internal power to discipline employees for illegal misconduct. The Court also held it is not enough that a government entity has general authority to regulate, enforce, investigate or prosecute. Rather, the agency receiving the report must possess the power and authority to regulate under, enforce, investigate, or prosecute the specific law allegedly violated in order to qualify as an “appropriate law enforcement agency”.

Firm Highlights


COVID-19 Response Team - Resources and Updates


The 2020 HR Recap

We’ve made it to the recap episode! The good, the bad, the ugly, and everything in between. Join Kevin and Elaine (Lainey) Luthens as they discuss it all including FFCRA legislation, OSHA, what they...

News Item

Thompson Coe Welcomes Partners Kenya Bodden and Patrick Kelly


The COVID-19 Vaccine Part 1


U.S. Supreme Court Settles Issue of Title VII Protections for LGBTQ+ Employees

Headshot of Stephanie Rojo


Individual Coverage HRA. What is it? What are the benefits and drawbacks? What companies are a good fit for ICHRAs versus group health plans? Kevin talks with Matt Hollister, President and CEO of Business...


Thompson Coe Saves Client $100Ks in Damages After 3-Day Trial


The Tale of OCS and the Coronavirus

How has Opportunity Community Services survived during this pandemic and Phase 1? Rose Kukwa of Opportunity Community Services and Dennis Van Norman with Van Norman & Associates share their experience.  Rose and her team...


The Importance of Strategic Transitions

Transitions versus change, what’s the destination and why is this important for a business?  Kevin talks with Gwen Gierke from Gierke Jungbauer on how they help to manage transitions. Transition happens in three stages: the ending, the neutral zone, and...


Supreme Court Reaffirms and Clarifies Ministerial Exception to Employment Discrimination Laws Under First Amendment’s Religion Clause