Mere transfer of employee not actionable for race discrimination or retaliation says 1st Court of Appeals

Fort Bend Independent School District v. Williams 01-13-00052-CV (Tex. App. – Houston [1st Dist.] September 5, 2013).

This is an interlocutory appeal from the denial of a plea to the jurisdiction regarding a race discrimination, hostile work environment, and retaliation charge.  The First Court of  Appeals reversed the denial and held the plaintiff (Williams) did not present a fact issue to counter the Fort Bend ISD’s evidence of a lack of discrimination or retaliation.

Williams is an African-American female teacher.  The District transferred her to several other schools during her employment, including a school she requested. Williams constantly filed charges with the EEOC alleging a variety of race based allegations.  The District responded to each complaint.  It argued that it never made an “ultimate employment decision” regarding Williams but merely transferred her based on the District’s needs.  The District presented evidence that such transfers were common and affected various teachers of different races.  Ultimately, Williams resigned even though she was offered a teaching position.  The court of appeals determined that Williams failed to counter with any evidence the transfers were to less desirable positions or that she was treated differently than others similarly situated.  She also failed to counter with any evidence the environment was so severe or pervasive she could not work or that treatment was such it would objectively prevent an individual from participating in the complaint process. It reversed the denial and dismissed Williams’ claims.

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