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Warren v. Federal National Mortgage Association

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

April 14, 2017

STEPHANIE WARREN, Plaintiff,
v.
FEDERAL NATIONAL MORTGAGE ASSOCIATION a/k/a FANNIE MAE, Defendant. Name Action Taken Disposition of Allegation Race

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JANE J. BOYLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Defendant Federal National Mortgage Association a/k/a Fannie Mae's (Fannie Mae) Motion for Summary Judgment. Doc. 53. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS Fannie Mae's Motion.

         I.

          BACKGROUND[1]

         This is an employment discrimination case. Plaintiff Stephanie Warren (Warren) contends that Fannie Mae terminated her from her position as a sales representative with the company based on her race. See, e.g., Doc. 28, Pl.'s Second Am. Compl. ¶¶ 4.02, 4.07, 4.12 [hereinafter Pl.'s SAC]. Fannie Mae fired Warren in February 2013. Id. ¶ 4.07. The reason for Warren's termination lies at the heart of this suit. Warren maintains that she was fired because of her race. Id. ¶ 6.03. Fannie Mae counters that it was because she violated company policy by engaging in an improper relationship with an outside real estate broker. See, e.g., Doc. 54, Def.'s Br. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 1, 6 [hereinafter Def.'s Br.].

         Fannie Mae is a publicly traded company created by congressional charter to support the national housing market by investing in mortgage loans. 12 U.S.C. § 1723a; Doc. 28, Pl.'s SAC ¶ 4.01. Due to its mortgage investments, Fannie Mae owns real estate throughout the United States. Doc. 54, Def.'s Br. 3. More specifically, when a property secured by one of Fannie Mae's mortgage interests is foreclosed upon, Fannie Mae takes ownership of the property-a “real estate owned” (REO) property-to manage and eventually sell it. Id.

         To facilitate the sale of REO properties, Fannie Mae employs sales representatives who work to sell the properties through licensed outside brokers in an assigned territory. Id. (citing Doc. 55, Def.'s App. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 77:10-78:13 [hereinafter Def.'s App.], Ex. 5, Warren Depo.). Fannie Mae then contracts with outside brokers (REO Brokers) after a rigorous screening process to work with Fannie Mae's sales reps to assist with the maintenance and disposition of REO properties. Id. at 4; Doc. 28, Pl.'s SAC ¶¶ 4.02-04. As part of that screening and contracting process, sales reps can recommend to Fannie Mae's management team that particular real estate agents be selected as REO Brokers. Doc. 54, Def.'s Br. 4 (citing Doc. 55, Def.'s App. 78:8-79:25, Ex. 5, Warren Depo.). If selected as brokers, then those agents receive unique passwords to access Fannie Mae's proprietary Asset-Management Network (AMN). Id. at 4-5.

         Warren started working for Fannie Mae in July 1996. Doc. 28, Pl.'s SAC ¶ 4.02; Doc. 54, Def.'s Br. 9. And at all times relevant to this case, Warren worked for Fannie Mae as a sales rep. Doc. 54, Def.'s Br. 9 (citing Doc. 55, Def.'s App. 76-77, Ex. 5, Warren Depo.); see also Doc. 66, Pl.'s App. Supp. Pl.'s Resp. 1 [hereinafter Pl.'s App.], Ex. 1, Warren Decl. ¶ 3 [hereinafter Warren Decl.]. In 2010, Warren was assigned to Fannie Mae's Virginia territory. Doc. 54, Def.'s Br. 9 (citing Doc. 55, Def.'s App. 81, Ex. 5, Warren Depo.). While there, she met Rhyan Finch, a Virginia real estate agent who later became an approved REO Broker for Fannie Mae's Virginia properties. See Doc. 66, Pl.'s App. 2, Warren Decl. ¶¶ 8-10.

         Warren moved from Fannie Mae's Virginia territory to its Pennsylvania territory in 2011. Id. ¶ 6. To carry out her duties there, Warren needed the help of real estate agents in Pennsylvania. Doc. 28, Pl.'s SAC ¶ 4.03. With that in mind, Warren requested and Fannie Mae provided a list of agents available in the area. Id. ¶ 4.09; Doc. 54, Def.'s Br. 11. The list included just one potential agent: Emma Djiya. Doc. 28, Pl.'s SAC ¶¶ 4.06, 4.09; Doc. 54, Def.'s Br. 11.

         Finch was not listed as an option. See Doc. 28, Pl.'s SAC ¶¶ 4.06, 4.09; Doc. 54, Def.'s Br. 11. Nevertheless, Warren spoke with Finch before proposing to Fannie Mae any names as potential REO Brokers. Doc. 54, Def.'s Br. 11 (citing Doc. 55, Def.'s App. 86-87, Ex. 5, Warren Depo.); Doc. 66, Pl.'s App. 2, Warren Decl. ¶ 12. Finch independently recommended Djiya and said that he would assist with bringing her up to speed to handle and market properties. Doc. 54, Def.'s Br. 11 (citing Doc. 55, Def.'s App. 86-91, Ex. 5, Warren Depo.); Doc. 66, Pl.'s App. 2, Warren Decl. ¶ 12. After a brief conversation with Djiya in which she confirmed that Djiya would receive assistance from Finch, Warren recommended to Fannie Mae that Djiya be on-boarded as a REO Broker. Doc. 54, Def.'s Br. 11 (citing Doc. 55, Def.'s App. 90, Ex. 5, Warren Depo.).

         Fannie Mae asserts and its summary judgment evidence indicates that in March 2012, Finch emailed Warren to say that Djiya's application to Fannie Mae had been submitted, and attached to the email copies of documents that Warren was supposed to submit to Fannie Mae about Djiya's application. Id. at 12 (citing Doc. 55, Def.'s App. 92-93, Ex. 5, Warren Depo.). Finch, Fannie Mae says, had filled in the documents to look as though Warren had completed them when in fact he had. Id. The documents included an email address and phone number for Djiya that were different from her usual email and phone number. Id. (citing Doc. 55, Def.'s App. 119, Ex. 5, Warren Depo.). Finch could access the new email address and potentially the phone line, too. Doc. 54, Def.'s Br. 12 (citing Doc. 55, Def.'s App. 131-33, Ex. 5, Warren Depo.). Warren knew that communications intended for Djiya also went to Finch. Id. Fannie Mae maintains that none of its other employees did. Id. Finch closed his email to Warren by saying: “Can you delete my name from the email forwarding it on and they can use the email in the form as it goes to me as well as the phone call.” Id. (quoting Doc. 55, Def.'s App. 186, Ex. 6, Warren Depo. Ex. 1.).

         Fannie Mae's summary judgment indicates-and Warren does not appear to contest-that Warren and Finch exchanged a few more emails about Djiya's application as it wound through Fannie Mae's screening process. See Id. at 12-13 (citing Doc. 55, Def.'s App. 94, 97-98, 189, 191-92). Warren's deposition testimony further indicates that while she did not forward the documents pre-filled by Finch, neither did she inform her manager at that time about Finch's involvement with Djiya's application. Id. at 13 (citing Doc. 155, Def.'s App. 99, Ex. 5, Warren Depo.). Fannie Mae eventually completed its screening process and on-boarded Djiya as a REO Broker, at which point she started working with Warren on the sale and disposition of REO properties. See id.; Doc. 28, Pl.'s SAC ¶ 4.06. This case turns on the working relationship between Warren, Djiya, and Finch-and more specifically, Fannie Mae's investigation into whether that relationship violated its internal personnel policies.

         Fannie Mae maintains that it employs both practical and formal safeguards to avoid potential conflicts of interest between sales reps and REO Brokers. Doc. 54, Def.'s Br. 3-4. In that regard, Fannie Mae often reassigns its territories among sales reps and uses multiple REO Brokers within a given sales rep's territory. Id. But as a more formal measure, Fannie Mae has a Code of Conduct and personnel policy that govern, among other things, sales reps' relationships and interactions with REO Brokers. Id.[2]

         Fannie Mae states that its Code of Conduct and personnel policy aim to prevent the existence or appearance of impropriety or conflict between Fannie Mae and its REO Brokers. Doc. 54, Def.'s Br. 4; see also Doc. 55, Def.'s App. 278, Ex. 21, Conflict of Interest Policy. Along those lines, Fannie Mae's Code of Conduct articulates a non-exhaustive list of “Code Breakers, ” that is, examples of conduct that would violate the code. Doc. 54, Def.'s Br. 4 (citing Doc. 55, Def.'s App. 256, Ex. 19, Arrington Decl.). Listed among those exemplary Code Breakers is: “Giving one Fannie Mae vendor an inappropriate advantage over other vendors.” Id. Read in context, Fannie Mae says, that means that its employees may not engage in conduct that either: (1) gives a vendor an inappropriate advantage; or (2) appears to give a vendor an inappropriate advantage. See id.; see also Doc. 65, Pl.'s Resp. 10-11, 22, 25. Fannie Mae claims that it requires that all of its employees, including Warren when she worked there, review the Code of Conduct annually. Doc. 54, Def.'s Br. 4 (citing Doc. 55, Def.'s App. 162:4-13, Ex. 5, Warren Depo.).

         Fannie Mae asserts that its dedicated investigations unit examines alleged violations of its Code of Conduct and personnel policies. Id. at 5; see also Doc. 65, Pl.'s Resp. 12, 27. The investigations unit's practices are governed by Fannie Mae's Investigations Policy, which, at least on paper, strives to ensure that investigations are fair, impartial, and insulated from influence by Fannie Mae's management team. Doc. 54, Def.'s Br. 5 (citing Doc. 55, Def.'s App. 264, Ex. 20, Investigations Policy). Warren, as will soon become apparent, disputes that the investigation of her conduct was impartial. See, e.g., Doc. 65, Pl.'s Resp. 12 (arguing that Fannie Mae engaged in a sham investigation).

         In any event, Fannie Mae says that once an investigation is complete, the lead investigator identifies “directed action” to be taken as a result of the investigation's findings. Doc. 54, Def.'s Br. 5. Fannie Mae's Chief Compliance Officer then purportedly reviews the proposed directed action before it is implemented. Id. at 5-6. During that process, the proposed directed actions are often discussed with Fannie Mae's management team. See Id. Fannie Mae maintains-but Warren disagrees-that those discussions are just to ensure that all pertinent information is on the table; management supposedly has no input into the selection or enactment of directed actions. Id.; see also Doc. 65, Pl.'s Resp. 7, 12, 23.

         The allegations at issue here involve former REO Brokers Finch and Jonathan Spinetto. Doc. 28, Pl.'s SAC ¶ 4.05; Doc. 54, Def.'s Br. 6. Fannie Mae alleges that in 2012, it received an anonymous tip that one of its sales reps, Stephanie Neugent, had helped Finch to establish a referral network through which he received fees for referring REO properties to other agents. Doc. 54, Def.'s Br. 6. Fannie Mae says that its investigations unit looked into the complaint, determined that Neugent's conduct violated the Code of Conduct and Conflict of Interest Policy, and proposed as directed action that she be fired as a result. Id. (citing Doc. 56, Def.'s Sealed App. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 563-75, Ex. 52, Neugent Inv. Decision [hereinafter Def.'s Sealed App.]). Management agreed and fired Neugent. See id.; see also Doc. 56, Def.'s Sealed App. 578, Ex. 53, Approval Memo re: Stephanie Neugent.

         Fannie Mae claims that its mortgage fraud group later expanded the investigation into Finch's conduct, as well as that of another unrelated broker named Jonathan Spinetto. Doc. 54, Def.'s Br. 7. Fannie Mae maintains that it concluded through the investigation that Finch and Spinetto improperly: (1) accessed the AMN without Fannie Mae's authorization or approval using other brokers' login credentials and passwords; (2) required the brokers that they worked with to split commissions as payment; and (3) masked their participation by creating false emails and phone numbers to lead Fannie Mae to believe that it was contacting other brokers when it was in fact corresponding with Finch and Spinetto. Id. Fannie Mae also became concerned that sales reps other than Neugent were implicated by Finch and Spinetto's behavior. Id. at 8.

         For that reason, Fannie Mae states, its investigations unit looked into which sales reps had worked with either Finch or Spinetto. Id. That inquiry initially identified 12 employees but two more names later came to light through ensuing investigations. Id.; Doc. 65, Pl.'s Resp. 22-24. Warren was among the first 12-Finch, cooperating with Fannie Mae's request, specifically named Warren as a sales rep who he had worked with in a list forwarded to the investigations unit. Doc. 54, Def.'s Br. 8 (citing Doc. 55, Def.'s App. 303-05, Ex. 23, Finch Depo.). Fannie Mae asserts that an investigation into Warren's behavior then began as a result of Finch's report. Id. at 9.

         Fannie Mae claims that its investigation uncovered a number of questionable or improper activities by Warren, including: (1) acquiescing to Finch's unauthorized access of Fannie Mae's AMN using Djiya's login credentials; (2) letting Finch conduct training for Djiya that Warren should have conducted herself; (3) permitting Finch to manage or at least be involved in managing REO properties assigned to Djiya; and, most importantly, (4) not telling anyone about it. Doc. 54, Def.'s Br. 13-15. In essence, Fannie Mae says, when Warren worked with Djiya, she was actually working with Finch. Id. And despite, Fannie Mae maintains, signs that interplay might be improper-for instance, Warren's annual review of Fannie Mae's Code of Conduct or requests that names be redacted from emails-Warren never reported it to her supervisor or other superior.[3] Id.

         Warren casts these facts in a different light. Djiya was the only REO Broker available in the area, so she worked with her. Doc. 28, Pl.'s SAC ¶ 4.09. What's more, her understanding of Fannie Mae's rules and practices allowed for relationships like that between Finch and Djiya. Id. ¶ 4.10. And Warren never received payments, kickbacks, or any other benefits from Finch or Djiya. Id. ¶ 4.11. Therefore, Warren says, nothing was amiss and there was no conflict of interest. Id.

         Nevertheless, Fannie Mae says that its investigations unit concluded that Warren's actions created an appearance of impropriety. Doc. 54, Def.'s Br. 15. Warren's deposition testimony, proffered by Fannie Mae, indicates that in August 2012 another REO Broker in Pennsylvania contacted Warren and asked whether Djiya was working with someone in Virginia. Id. (citing Doc. 55, Def.'s App. 122-23, Ex. 5, Warren Depo.). Fannie Mae says that Warren reported that call to Djiya and Finch, but not to her supervisor or any other superior. Id. (citing Doc. 55, Def.'s App. 125-26, Ex. 5, Warren Depo.). Fannie Mae claims that based on all of those occurrences and Warren's failure to report them to management, the lead investigator on Warren's case, Leslie Arrington, determined that termination was the appropriate direct action to take. Id. at 15-18.

         Fannie Mae says that its Chief Compliance Officer Nancy Jardini then reviewed and approved the proposed directed action. Id. at 18.

         In February 2013, Fannie Mae's Director of Sales informed Warren that she was being terminated for allegedly violating Fannie Mae's Code of Conduct in connection with her work on REO properties in Pennsylvania. Doc. 28, Pl.'s SAC ¶ 4.07. A few days later, Warren received a letter from Meghan Chadsey, an internal investigator, informing her that she was fired for failing to maintain an arm's length relationship with Finch. Id. ¶ 4.08. Warren asserts that Fannie Mae's reasons for firing her are false and pretext for illegal discrimination. Id. ¶ 4.09.

         On that basis, Warren filed suit in state court against Fannie Mae and Jerome Devadoss, Fannie Mae's Director of Real Estate Asset Management. See Doc. 1, Notice of Removal, Ex. A-2, Pl.'s Orig. Pet. Warren amended her state suit, dropping Devadoss and adding Ray Donovan, an employee in Fannie Mae's auction sales department. Id., Ex. 6 Pl.'s Am. Pet. Fannie Mae, in turn, removed the case to this Court. See Id. Warren moved to remand the case to state court, but the Court denied her motion and dismissed Warren's claims against Donovan after finding that he had been improperly joined. See Doc. 23, Order.

         Warren then filed her Second Amended Complaint against Fannie Mae and Arrington, the lead investigator on Warren's case. See Doc. 28, Pl.'s SAC. In it, Warren asserts the following claims: (1) race discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, and the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act (TCHRA), Tex. Labor Code §§ 21.001 et seq., against Fannie Mae; (2) race discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (Section 1981) against Fannie Mae and Arrington; and (3) defamation against Fannie Mae. Id. ¶¶ 5.01-7.07.

         The Court has already dismissed Warren's defamation claim. See Doc. 36, Elec. Order. The Court has also dismissed Warren's claims against Arrington under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 4(m) for failure to timely serve Arrington with process. See Doc. 51, Order. So the only claims remaining are those against Fannie Mae for race discrimination under Title VII, Section 1981, and the TCHRA. Fannie Mae's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 53) seeks to dismiss all three. Warren has responded to Fannie Mae's Motion, and Fannie Mae has replied. See Doc. 65, Pl.'s Resp.; Doc. 69, Def.'s Reply to Pl.'s Resp. [hereinafter Def.'s Reply]. Thus, Fannie Mae's Motion is ripe for the Court's review.

         II.

         LEGAL STANDARDS

         A. Summary Judgment

         Summary judgment is appropriate “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A dispute “is ‘genuine' if the evidence is sufficient for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the non-moving party.” Burrell v. Dr. Pepper/Seven Up Bottling Grp., 482 F.3d 408, 411 (5th Cir. 2007). And a fact “is ‘material' if its resolution could affect the outcome of the action.” Id.

         The summary judgment movant bears the burden of proving that no genuine issue of material fact exists. Latimer v. Smithkline & French Labs., 919 F.2d 301, 303 (5th Cir. 1990). Usually, this requires the movant to identify “those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (internal quotation marks omitted). But if the non-movant ultimately bears the burden of proof at trial, the movant may satisfy its burden just by pointing to the absence of evidence supporting the non-movant's case. Id. at 322-23.

         If the movant meets that burden, then it falls to the non-movant to “show with significant probative evidence that there exists a genuine issue of material fact.” Hamilton v. Segue Software Inc., 232 F.3d 473, 477 (5th Cir. 2000) (internal quotation marks omitted) (citing Conkling v. Turner, 18 F.3d 1285, 1295 (5th Cir. 1994)). And significant probative evidence is just that: significant. See Little v. Liquid Air Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (per curiam). “[M]etaphysical doubt as to material facts, ” “conclusory allegations, ” “unsubstantiated assertions, ” or a mere “scintilla of evidence” will not do. Id.(internal citations and quotation marks omitted). Rather, “the non-movant must go beyond the pleadings and present specific facts indicating a genuine issue for trial.” Bluebonnet Hotel Ventures, L.L.C. v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 754 F.3d 272, 276 (5th Cir. 2014) (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324).

         To be sure, the court views evidence in the light most favorable to the non-movant when determining whether a genuine issue exists. Munoz v. Orr, 200 F.3d 291, 302 (5th Cir. 2000). Yet it need not “sift through the record in search of evidence to support a party's opposition to summary judgment.” Ragas v. Tenn. Gas Pipeline Co., 136 F.3d 455, 458 (5th Cir. 1998) (quoting Skotak v. Tenneco Resins, Inc., 953 F.2d 909, 915-16 & n.7 (5th Cir. 1992)). Simply put, the non-movant must “identify specific evidence in the record” and “articulate the precise manner in which that evidence supports [its] claim.” Id. If it cannot, then the court must grant summary judgment. Little, 37 F.3d at 1076.

          B. The McDonnell Douglas Burden Shifting Framework

         As referenced, Warren has asserted race discrimination claims under Title VII, Section 1981, and the TCHRA. The Court employs the McDonnell Douglas burden shifting framework to analyze all of those claims.

         Claims brought under Title VII and Section 1981 “are ‘governed by the same evidentiary framework, ' such that the analyses under both statutes are substantively the same.” Jackson v. Watkins, 619 F.3d 463, 466 (5th Cir. 2010) (quoting Pegram v. Honeywell, Inc., 361 F.3d 272, 281 n.7 (5th Cir. 2004)). The same goes for “[c]laims of race discrimination brought under Title VII and the TCHRA.” Bender v. Shulkin, No. 3:14-cv-2595-L, 2017 WL 1156327, at *6 (N.D. Tex. Mar. 22, 2017) (quoting Shackelford v. Deloitte & Touche, LLP, 190 F.3d 398, 404 n.2 (5th Cir. 1999); see also Reed v. Neopost USA, Inc., 701 F.3d 434, 439 (5th Cir. 2012) (noting parallelism between Title VII and the TCHRA). On that basis, the Court may address all three of Warren's claims together using the Title VII evidentiary framework. See Bender, 2017 WL 1078509, at *6; Jackson, 619 F.3d at 466.

         Title VII prohibits employers from discharging or otherwise discriminating against employees because of race. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a). Should discrimination occur, “Title VII affords employees the option of proving a violation through either direct or circumstantial evidence.” Jackson, 619 F.3d at 466. Warren relies on circumstantial evidence.[4] For that reason, the Court analyzes her claims “under the three-step, burden-shifting analysis embodied in the ‘modified McDonnell Douglas approach.'” Jackson, 619 F.3d at 466 (quoting Burrell v. Dr. Pepper/Seven Up Bottling Grp., Inc., 482 F.3d 408, 411 (5th Cir. 2007)).

         First, the plaintiff must “establish a prima facie case of discrimination.” Id. “‘Although the precise elements of this showing will vary depending on the circumstances, the plaintiff's burden at this stage of the case is not onerous.'” Reed, 701 F.3d at 439 (quoting Mission Consol. Ind. Sch. Dist. v. Garcia, 372 S.W.3d 629, 633 (Tex. 2012)). Second, if the plaintiff shows a prima facie case, then “the ‘burden shifts to the employer to show a legitimate, nonretaliatory reason for the adverse employment action.'” Id. (quoting Black v. Pan Am. Labs., L.L.C., 646 F.3d 254, 259 (5th Cir. 2011)). “This is a burden of production, not persuasion, on the employer's part, and it ‘can involve no credibility assessment.'” Bender, 2017 WL 1078509, at *6 (quoting St. Mary's Honor Ctr. v. Hicks, 509 U.S. 502, 509 (1993)). Third, “[i]f the employer meets its burden, then the burden shifts back to the plaintiff to make an ultimate showing of intentional discrimination.” Reed, 701 F.3d at 339.

         To do so, the plaintiff “may proceed under one of two alternatives: the pretext alternative or the mixed-motives alternative.” Jackson v. Watkins, No. 3:07-cv-1837-D, 2009 WL 1437824, at *3 (N.D. Tex. May 21, 2009), aff'd, 619 F.3d 463 (5th Cir. 2010). For pretext, the plaintiff “must ‘offer sufficient evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact that [the employer's] reason is not true, but is instead a pretext for discrimination.'” Id. (quoting Rachid v. Jack in the Box, Inc., 376 F.3d 305, 312 (5th Cir. 2004)) (internal alterations omitted).

         To prevail under the mixed-motives alternative, by contrast, the plaintiff “must offer sufficient evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact ‘that [the employer's] reason, while true, is only one of the reasons for [its] conduct, and another motivating factor is [the plaintiff's] protected characteristic.'” Id. Simply put, under the mixed motives theory “the plaintiff can survive summary judgment by producing evidence that creates a jury issue as to the employer's discriminatory animus or the falsity of the employer's nondiscriminatory explanation.” Sandstad v. CB Richard Ellis, Inc., 309 F.3d 893, 897 (5th Cir. 2002).

         III.

          ANALYSIS

         A. Objections to Evidence

         Before analyzing Warren's race discrimination claims, the Court must first address Fannie Mae's objections to Warren's summary judgment evidence. Fannie Mae objects to Warren's submission of: (1) Keitha Jefferson's Declaration; and (2) Warren's own Declaration[5] to the extent that it contradicts with her prior deposition testimony. Doc. 67, Def.'s Obj. 1-5. The Court addresses each objection in turn.

         1. Keitha Jefferson Declaration

         Keitha Jefferson was formerly employed by Fannie Mae as a real estate asset analyst and foreclosure specialist. See Doc. 66, Pl.'s App. 527, Ex. 10, Jefferson Decl. Jefferson claims that Fannie Mae improperly terminated her after a biased investigation by Chadsey and Arrington in retaliation for her reporting unpaid overtime hours and requesting disability accommodation. Id. at 528-31. Warren offers her declaration to challenge the trustworthiness and character of Fannie Mae's investigators, Chadsey and Arrington. See Doc. 72, Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s Obj. 2 [hereinafter Pl.'s Obj. Resp.]

         Fannie Mae argues that Jefferson's Declaration should be excluded because it is irrelevant, prejudicial, hearsay, not based on personal knowledge, and improper opinion testimony. Id. at 1-3. Warren, by contrast, argues that Jefferson's testimony is intimately relevant in that it speaks to Fannie Mae's investigator's bad faith. Doc. 72, Pl.'s Obj. Resp. 2. Further, Warren continues, Jefferson's Declaration is not hearsay because it is based on party admissions by Fannie Mae's employees, and is not improper opinion evidence because it is based on her own experience. See Id. at 3-4.

         The Court agrees with Fannie Mae. As an initial matter, Warren purportedly offers Jefferson's declaration to attack Chadsey and Arrington's credibility. It has no other evidentiary value. Yet credibility determinations are not allowed at the summary judgment stage. See Baylor Cty. Hos. Dist. v. Burwell, 163 F.Supp.3d 372, 377 (N.D. Tex. 2016) (“The Court cannot make a credibility determination in light of conflicting evidence or competing inferences.”). Even if the Court were to overlook that shortcoming, Jefferson's Declaration is wholly unrelated to facts at hand. She was employed by Fannie Mae at the same time as Warren but the similarities end there-the two held different jobs, were fired for purportedly different reasons, and asserted different claims. See Doc. 66, Pl.'s App. 528-29, Ex. 10, Jefferson Decl. So her ...


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