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November 2018

Houston Partner Heidi Gumienny Obtains Summary Judgment in a Race and Religion Discrimination and Retaliation Lawsuit

Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani Houston Partner Heidi Gumienny obtained a judgment and order from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirming summary judgment in favor of a for-profit educational services provider in a race and religious discrimination and retaliation lawsuit brought by a former employee under Title VII and 42 U.S.C. §1981.  The plaintiff, a English Second Language teacher at one of the client’s schools, alleged that she had been discriminated against by the client in that it failed to promote her to an academic coordinator position, unfairly disciplined her during her employment, and terminated her employment after discovering that she had numerous deficiencies relating to the grading and assessment of her students, which deficiencies resulted in an increase in the failure rate in her class from 2 percent to more than 60 percent during one school year.  The plaintiff also claimed that she was fired because she submitted an EEOC Charge of Discrimination to the client, even though the client had already made the decision to terminate her employment before receiving notice of the Charge.

After moving successfully for summary judgment on all of the plaintiff’s claims, the plaintiff appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Affirming the trial court’s grant of summary judgment, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals determined that, by presenting evidence of the plaintiff’s performance issues with respect to the grading and assessment of her students, the client had proffered legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for all of its actions, including its termination of her employment, and that the plaintiff had failed to meet her burden to show that these reasons were pretextual.  Further, the Fifth Circuit found that the other actions taken by the client of which the plaintiff complained did not rise to the level of actionable discrimination, and that the client had presented evidence that its administrators had made the decision to fire the plaintiff days before she submitted notice of her EEOC Charge.   

To read the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ opinion in full, please click here.


Heidi Gumienny



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