Texas A&M not liable for race or gender discrimination says 14th Court of Appeals

Patrice Barnes v. The Texas A&M University System and Praire View A&M University, 14-13-00646-CV (Tex. App. – Houston [14th Dist.], September 30, 2014).

This is an employment discrimination, hostile work environment, retaliation case where the Houston Court of Appeals reversed in part and affirmed in part the granting of the Defendants’ summary judgment motion.

Barnes, and African American female, was an employee who complained of treatment by her supervisor, Lupe Linderos. Barnes was ultimately authorized to work from home, however four months after authorization, her employment was terminated. Barnes filed suit but the trial court granted the summary judgments filed by the University System. Barnes appealed.

The court first held there was no evidence Barnes received disparate treatment compared to similarly situated employees outside her protected class. Barnes’ references to other employees were too dissimilar to be proper comparators and the trial court properly granted summary judgment for her discrimination claims. Barnes did establish she engaged in protected activities by complaining about racist comments of colleagues. However, she offered only a temporal relationship between when she complained and her termination as evidence of causation which is insufficient. As a result, her retaliation claim was properly dismissed. Her hostile work environment claim survived due to the fact the University System did not raise the argument in its no-evidence motion (the one the court granted).  The court did not rule on the traditional summary judgment evidence motion. Therefore it was improper to grant the no-evidence motion as to that claim.

If you would like to read this opinion click here. Panel: Chief Justice Frost, Justice Jamison and Justice Wise. Memorandum Opinion by Justice Wise. The attorney listed for the University System is Frank Anthony King.  The attorney listed for Barnes is Robert Chris Pittard.

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