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Janik v. Lamar Consol. Independent School Dist.

Court of Appeals of Texas, First District, Houston

July 17, 1997

Gertrude JANIK, Appellant,
v.
The LAMAR CONSOLIDATED INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT and Kathy Graeber-Raley in her official capacity, Appellees.

        Rehearing Overruled Aug. 13, 1997.

       Lawrence W. Watts, Houston, for appellant.

       Merri Schneider-Vogel, Christopher Blewer Gilbert, Houston, for appellees.

       Before WILSON, COHEN and HEDGES, JJ.

Page 323

OPINION

       WILSON, Justice.

       Appellant, Gertrude Janik, was discharged from her position as a school district clerk. She sued the district and her former supervisor for wrongful discharge. Appellees, the Lamar Independent Consolidated School District (LISD) and Kathy Graeber-Raley, filed a plea to the jurisdiction. In this appeal, we are asked to determine if the trial court properly granted the plea. In three points of error, Janik contends the trial court erred in granting the plea to the jurisdiction because: (1) when an action is grounded in the constitution, it is not necessary for a plaintiff to exhaust her administrative remedies; (2) she meets the requirements of other exceptions to the general rule of exhaustion of remedies; and (3) LISD and Graeber-Raley did not overcome a standard of review favoring Janik.

       We affirm.

Background

       Janik worked for 12 years as an at-will employee for LISD. Janik and Graeber-Raley offer contradictory versions of the events leading to Janik's discharge. According to Graeber-Raley, she was displeased with Janik's job performance, particularly with her inability to master computer word processing. Graeber-Raley also believed Janik had a poor attitude, was inept at dealing with fellow employees, and shifted an inappropriate amount of work to her student helper. After a two-month trial period in which Janik's job deficiencies were addressed, Graeber-Raley decided to terminate Janik. She offered her the option of resigning, but Janik walked off the job and never returned.

       Janik contends she told Graeber-Raley she needed additional help to complete her job (processing worker's compensation claims) and, if she didn't get it, she and her supervisor would resign and their story would be in the newspapers. Janik contends Graeber-Raley began to micromanage her work and engaged in a series of actions designed to harass her. Janik further alleges Graeber-Raley intended from the outset to replace her with a younger Hispanic woman, and that the reasons offered for her termination were merely pretext.

       Janik immediately engaged an attorney; she did not pursue any administrative remedies before filing suit. She contends she was unaware of the grievance procedure and was never informed about it ...


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