Employee’s discrimination claims dismissed

Masika Ray-Brown v. Longview Independent School District, 06-13-00037-CV (Tex. App. – Texarkana, September 26, 2013).

This is a racial discrimination and retaliation case where the trial court granted the Longview Independent School District (“LISD”) motion for summary judgment and Ray-Brown appealed. The appellate court affirmed the dismissal.

Ray-Brown was an African-American woman probationary contract teacher for LISD. She alleged she was subjected to racial harassment and gave several alleged incidents including transferring a white student out of her class to place him with a white teacher, failing to respond to her complaint that a co-worker threatened physical violence and was attempting to sabotage her employment, and that she was placed on an Intervention Plan for a teacher in need of assistance. Eventually, Ray-Brown’s contract was not renewed and she filed suit. LISD filed a motion for summary judgment alleging none of the alleged actions constitute a prima facie case of discrimination or retaliation. After the trial court granted the motion, Ray-Brown appealed.

The Sixth Court of Appeals first held there was no evidence of a hostile work environment.  After going through a brief analysis of what constitutes a proper claim, the alleged incidents were insufficient to objectively qualify as affecting Ray-Brown’s employment or creating a hostile work environment, let alone one based on race. Further, Ray-Brown failed to establish she engaged in an activity giving rise to protection from retaliation. Simply labeling the student transfer as a “race issue” does not make it so and does not reflect opposition to actions of LISD or her supervisor. Additionally, there is no causal link between her statements about the transfer and the recommendation not to renew her contract.  In short, Ray-Brown failed to meet her burden to establish a hostile work environment or retaliation existed and her claims were properly dismissed.

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