Petty slights, minor annoyances, and simple lack of good manners insufficient for adverse employment action or causal connection to pass-over of promotion

April Dupree Adeshile v. Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas, 14-12-00980-CV (Tex. App. – Houston [14th dist.], July 24, 2014).

This is a sex discrimination employment lawsuit where the panel withdrew its opinion issued on  January 16, 2014 and substituted this opinion. The court upheld the trial court’s dismissal of Adeshile’s claims.

Adeshile worked as a bus driver for Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas (“METRO”). Adeshile filed a federal sex discrimination against METRO in 2006 which was later dismissed.  In 2010 she was given a verbal counseling for excessive sick leave and in response, filed this retaliation charge alleging unwarranted write-ups and denying her a promotion. The trial court issued a directed verdict for Metro at trial and Adeshile appealed.

The court first held Adeshile presented no probative evidence of an adverse employment action. Petty slights, minor annoyances, and simple lack of good manners do not qualify. The trial court record contains no evidence Adeshile was given an adverse write-up. Adeshile did not present evidence raising a fact issue on whether the verbal counseling was a material adverse employment action. Further, she presented no causal evidence she was denied her promotion due to her former federal lawsuit. Despite her “colorful descriptions” of prior sexual harassment, those alleged events went to the merits of her federal claim, not her retaliation claim. This opinion’s analysis is a good one to review when deciding whether a particular action is an adverse employment action or whether a causal connection exists, as the court goes through an evidentiary analysis of what occurred and why it did not qualify. The trial court upheld the directed verdict.

If you would like to read this opinion click here.  Panel: Justice Boyce, Justice Christopher and Justice Brown.  Memorandum opinion by Justice Brown. The attorney listed for the METRO is Hao Pham Le.  The attorney listed for Adeshile is April Dupree Adeshile.