Retaliation Suit Fails to Yield Evidence for Retaliation Suit

Today’s the day for successor cases from lawsuits in 2004. Alexandrea Crutcher originally sued DISD for discrimination and retaliation in that fateful (for 2013 purposes) year.  That lawsuit was resolved by settlement. In 2009, Crutcher interviewed for a job as a basketball coach and science teacher. After some initial recommendations that she be hired, the school hired a different candidate. Crutcher filed suit under the Texas Commission for Human Rights Act, alleging retaliation for her previous retaliation and discrimination lawsuit. Under the TCHRA, employers cannot retaliate or discriminate against an employee or applicant for filing a discrimination complaint. Tex. Lab. Code § 21.055. But Crutcher failed to meet her initial burden of coming forward with either direct or circumstantial evidence that the adverse employment decision was motivated by discriminatory purpose.

The principal who initially recommended Crutcher’s hiring did so after she learned of the earlier lawsuit, and only withdrew the recommendation later on. The person in the HR department who was responsible for making the employment decision was unaware of the first lawsuit, and a paperwork error had caused a misdescription of the job that was actually available. Allegations of hanky panky with a colleague in a supply closet also make a cameo appearance in the opinion, along with a bunch of other facts that the Court of Appeals ruled had adequately negated any causal connection between the decision not to hire Crutcher with her previous lawsuit. The Court therefore concluded that Crutcher had failed to show a prima facie case of retaliation, and that DISD has negated any showing of discriminatory intent in any case. As a result, the Court affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the school district.

Crutcher v. Dallas Indep. Sch. Dist., No. 05-11-01112-CV

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