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What Damages Can Be Claimed in a Sabine Pilot Case?

Because of state and local at-will employment laws, companies in Midland have the right to fire employees without warning or reason. Thankfully, there are legal protections for workers against wrongful termination and retaliation. One of these protections, the Sabine Pilot doctrine, helps prevent employers from firing employees who refuse to commit an illegal act at their request.

At Carabin Shaw, we believe in defending workplace integrity. If you think that Sabine Pilot might apply to you and you are wondering what damages can be claimed in a Sabine Pilot case, call our Midland employment lawyers today.

What Is Sabine Pilot?

Sabine Pilot is a judge-made employment law determined by the Supreme Court of Texas in the 1985 case of Sabine Pilot Service, Inc. v. Hauck. In this employment lawsuit, Michael Hauck and his lawyer contested that his former employer, Sabine Pilot, fired him because he refused to engage in criminal activity on the company’s behalf.

An officer for Sabine Pilot told Hauck, a deckhand, that part of his daily responsibilities included pumping bilges off of the boat on which he worked into a waterway. However, Hauck noticed a sign on the vessel that said it was illegal to pump the bilges into the water. He called the U.S. Coast Guard, and a guardsman told Hauck that the placard was correct. Therefore, Hauck refused to pump the bilges, and Sabine Pilot fired him as a result.

Though Sabine Pilot testified that they terminated Hauck because of other “derelictions of duty,” like refusing to swab the deck and man a radio watch, Hauck won his case, and the court deemed his firing illegal. According to the court, the sole reason Hauck lost his job was his unwillingness to pump the bilges.

What Does the Sabine Pilot Judgment Mean?

Michael Hauck’s successful challenge to established at-will employment laws in Texas is significant because it means that company superiors cannot intimidate employees into crossing legal and ethical bounds.

In his concurring opinion on the ruling, Texas Supreme Court Justice William Kilgarin, wrote, “Absolute employment at will...belongs in a museum, not in our law.” He continued, “Allowing an employer to require an employee to break a law or face termination cannot help but promote a thorough disrespect for the laws and legal institutions of our society.“ In other words, holding employers accountable for intimidation and lawbreaking ensures that we continue to live in a free and just country.

To this end, filing a Sabine Pilot claim is not only a way to advocate for yourself, but it is also a way to advocate for the integrity of our state and local justice systems. An attorney who specializes in business and employment law will ensure that your voice is heard.

What Is Your Midland Sabine Pilot Claim Worth?

If you want to know more about what damages can be claimed in a Sabine Pilot case, you should know that the answer varies based on your particular experience. Contacting a lawyer who specializes in employment law is crucial for getting the most out of your case.

You may receive compensation for:

  • Loss of wages: If your employer wrongfully terminated you, losing a steady paycheck is likely your first point of concern. You may be able to secure redress for loss of wages, both past and reasonably expected in the future.
  • Loss of benefits: If your employment came with retirement and medical benefits, losing your job suddenly can endanger the health of both you and your dependents and your long-term financial security.
  • Punitive Damages: Punitive damages extend beyond actual, quantifiable damages. In some cases, the harm to the plaintiff is so great, and the defendant's behavior is so scandalous that the court requires the defendant to pay more money as punishment for the heinous act.

If you feel these damages might apply to your case, we urge you to call an employment attorney today.

Call Carabin Shaw Today

If you would like to know more about what damages can be claimed in a Sabine Pilot case, contact our Midland employment lawyers today. At Carabin Shaw, we will not charge you unless we win your case, and your initial consultation is free.

To speak to a lawyer in Midland, call 432-620-0544 or toll-free at 1-800-862-1260.

Visits with the Attorney are by appointment only. Main office San Antonio, Texas.

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