Hal K. Gillespie

Shareholder, Gillespie, Rozen & Watsky
Dallas
65

For the past 40 years, Hal K. Gillespie has represented individuals and unions in labor or employment cases involving a wide range of matters, including wrongful discharge, discrimination, sexual harassment and breach of employment contracts. And Gillespie says he has obtained multimillion-dollar verdicts in a number of those cases.

Becoming a lawyer was one of Gillespie’s goals when he was a teenager. Gillespie says he was in about the ninth grade when he knew he wanted to be a lawyer or an actor. He says he decided to pursue a career in law because “odds are steeper” for would-be actors than for lawyers.

After graduating from the University of Texas School of Law in 1972, Gillespie joined Mullinax, Wells, Mauzy & Baab, which had a large practice representing labor unions. Aside from a nine-month stint in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps of the U.S. Air Force in 1973 and 1974, Gillespie remained at Mullinax, Wells until 1978, when he left the firm to start Hicks, Gillespie & James. In 1990, he helped start the firm that became Gillespie, Rozen & Watsky.

Gillespie says he went into labor law “because I believe unions are critical to America.” He says that his work on labor cases led him into employment law.

“I do what I do in order to make a difference for people who have rights in this country that ought to be enforced,” Gillespie says.

In 2007, Gillespie represented a Vietnam War veteran who alleged in Mock v. Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. that age discrimination had caused his termination by the aviation company. The jury in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida in Orlando found that Bell had “willfully” violated the federal age discrimination law in terminating Gary Mock, and the trial court awarded him $225,809 plus interest. Mock and Bell appealed. Gillespie says he had hoped to get more money for Mock, whom he describes as a “war hero.” In 2010, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta affirmed the trial court’s judgment.

In September arguments before a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Gillespie contended that punitive damage caps under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act are unconstitutional pursuant to the Texas Constitution. Gillespie represents Richard Miller in an age discrimination case against defense contractor Raytheon Co. In 2010, a federal jury in Dallas awarded Miller $15 million in punitive damages under the TCHRA in Miller v. Raytheon Co. The trial judge applied the lower state cap and awarded only the $579,179 in liquidated damages available to Miller under the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act.


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