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QUANTUM CHEMICAL CORP. v. TOENNIES, 47 S.W.3d 473 (Tex. 2001) 47 S.W.3d 473 QUANTUM CHEMICAL CORPORATION, Petitioner v. RALF TOENNIES, Respondent No. 99-1042 Supreme Court of Texas Argued: October 11, 2000 Opinion Delivered: March 8, 2001 Rehearing Overruled May 24, 2001 On Petition for Review from the Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas Page 474 Levon G. Hovnatanian, The Holman Law Firm, P.C., Linda L.S. Moroney, Houston, for Appellant. Thomas Wilson, Christopher V. Bacon, Anissa Maria Albro, Vinson & Elkins L.L.P., Houston, for Appellee. Chief Justice PHILLIPS delivered the opinion of the Court, joined by Justice ENOCH, Justice BAKER, Justice HANKINSON, and Justice O'NEILL. In this age discrimination suit brought under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act ("TCHRA"), we must decide what standard of causation a plaintiff must meet. The relevant parts of the TCHRA are patterned after Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act. Thus, we would ordinarily look to federal precedents for interpretative guidance to meet the legislative mandate that the TCHRA is intended to "provide for the execution of the policies of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its subsequent amendments." Tex. Labor Code § 21.001 LAB.(1). However, because the federal courts are closely divided on the issue, we follow the plain meaning of Texas Labor Code section 21.125 LAB.. This section provides that a plaintiff establishes an unlawful employment practice by showing that discrimination was "a motivating factor" for the practice. We therefore affirm the judgment of the court of appeals, 998 S.W.2d 374,
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and remand the case to the trial court for further proceedings. I. Ralf Toennies was an engineer for DuPont at its La Porte facility when Quantum Chemical bought the facility in 1987. Two years later, Quantum promoted him to Senior Chemical Engineer. Before 1994, Toennies's employee evaluations were satisfactory; but in early 1994, a few months after he began reporting to a new supervisor, his performance evaluation was below expectations. Quantum terminated Page 475 Toennies in late 1994, when he was 55 years old. Toennies filed a complaint with the Texas Commission on Human Rights, which issued a right-to-sue letter. See Tex. Labor Code § 21.252 LAB.. He then sued Quantum under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act, Tex. Labor Code §§ 21.001 LAB.-.556, alleging that age discrimination motivated the firing. Because there was no direct evidence of discrimination, Toennies relied on circumstantial evidence to make his case and to disprove Quantum's contention that it terminated him for poor job performance. At the close of evidence, Toennies proposed to instruct the jury "that an unlawful employment practice is established when the Plaintiff demonstrates that his age was a motivating factor for his discharge, even if other factors also motivated the discharge." The court rejected this language, and instead instructed "that an employer commits an unlawful employment practice if, because of age, the employer discharges an individual." During deliberations, the jury sent a note to the judge inquiring
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