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Sanders v. City of Fort Worth

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Fort Worth Division

March 23, 2017

MATTIE SANDERS, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF FORT WORTH, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN MCBRYDE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Came on for consideration the motion of defendant, City of Fort Worth, to dismiss. The court, having considered the motion, the response of plaintiff, Mattie Sanders, the reply, the record, and applicable authorities, finds that the motion should be granted.

         I. Plaintiff's Claims

         Plaintiff originally filed her claims in the 48th Judicial District Court of Tarrant County, Texas. Defendant filed a notice of removal, bringing the action before this court, and the court ordered the parties to replead. On February 3, 2017, plaintiff filed her amended complaint.

         Plaintiff alleges: She began her employment with defendant in 2005. In October 2015, Sarah Odle[1] was appointed plaintiff's supervisor. That month, plaintiff made her first complaint to human resources that Odle berated her publicly. During November and December, Odle repeated her public berating of plaintiff and plaintiff complained to human resources. Plaintiff also notified the director and several meetings followed. On November 23, 2015, plaintiff was placed on a performance improvement plan. This was the first request to improve her employment that plaintiff received during her tenure with defendant. On March 17, 2016, plaintiff received disciplinary action citing her performance. On June 14, 2016, she was notified that she was under consideration for termination due to performance. At some point, plaintiff was terminated.[2]

         The only allegations contained in the amended complaint that touch on the actions of Ms. Odle are as follows:

The Plaintiff reported the employer that: "several times in November and December, 2015, Ms. Odle again approached my desk and began to speak with me openly in the ear-shot of other staff about personal/professional issues even after she was asked in writing not to do this because it made me feel very uncomfortable, it was unprofessional, and violated my privacy expectations as an employee. Nonetheless, she continued her hostility and retaliatory conduct towards me." The Plaintiff also reported: "There were several occasions when Miss Odle made me feel very uncomfortable about my hairstyle in braids as an African-American she made racial comments from time to time about my hair whenever I would wear a braids which was a lot she came up and touched my hair on several occasions after I ask her not to touch my hair which was very uncomfortable for me she made me feel very uncomfortable in many many occasions. Even after I explained to her that it was because of my culture she continued to badger me and made me feel very uncomfortable about my hair and make by making continuing to making comments about my braids saying that why do I wear braids even after I explain[ed] to her why".

Doc.[3] 10 at 3-4, ¶¶ 14-15. (Grammatical errors in the original are too numerous to point out or correct.) Notably, these are not allegations of fact, but only that plaintiff made certain reports.

         Plaintiff asserts claims for hostile work environment, retaliation, and violation of the Texas Labor Code.

         II.

         Grounds of the Motion

         Defendant maintains that plaintiff has not alleged sufficient facts to state a claim under Title VII or the Texas Labor Code, which applies the same standard. And, punitive damages may not be imposed against defendant.

         III.

         Applicable ...


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