Appeal from the 506th Judicial District Court Waller County,
Texas Trial Court Cause No. 11-10-21109
consists of Justices Boyce, Busby, and Wise.
BRETT BUSBY JUSTICE.
Patrice Barnes appeals the trial court's order granting
summary judgment in favor of appellee Prairie View A&M
University on Barnes's claim of employment discrimination
based on hostile work environment. Barnes argues on appeal
that the summary judgment evidence demonstrated a genuine
issue of material fact that she was subjected to a hostile
work environment. We conclude that the record includes
evidence negating essential elements of a hostile work
environment, and Barnes did not raise a genuine issue of
material fact regarding those elements. Specifically, the
record indicates that most of the harassing conduct of which
Barnes complains was not based on her race, and the remaining
conduct was not objectively severe and pervasive enough to
alter the terms, conditions, or privileges of her employment.
We therefore affirm.
an African-American female, was hired by Prairie View in 1994
as an extension agent in the Cooperative Extension Program
(CEP). In Texas, two organizations affiliated with state
educational institutions provide educational programs to
farmers and ranchers. Those organizations are the CEP of
Prairie View and the AgriLife Extension Service of Texas
A&M University. CEP serves families and individuals with
limited resources, while AgriLife serves the entire Texas
population. CEP agents and AgriLife agents work together in
many offices across Texas. In these joint county offices,
AgriLife employees supervise CEP agents.
2007, Barnes started making complaints about alleged
harassment and a hostile work environment. Most of
Barnes's complaints stemmed from interactions with and
treatment by her AgriLife supervisor, Lupe Linderos, but also
included incidents with other colleagues. Her complaints
included a racial slur made by a colleague; a secretary
telling a client to go to the "white" agent's
office because Barnes's office is the "black"
program; Linderos and other colleagues degrading her in front
of clients and taking over meetings, hiding paperwork and
files, requiring Barnes to resubmit documents, and repeatedly
asking Barnes the same questions in staff conferences; and
Linderos refusing to sign documents needing approval.
complaint regarding a racial slur involved an interaction
with a colleague, Mike Shockey. Barnes alleged Shockey made a
racist comment about "tar and feathering" while at
a rodeo event. According to Barnes, workers were sawing
through insulation, and Shockey said it looked like the
workers were "having a good old-fashioned tar and
feathering party" when the insulation fell and stuck to
people below. Another agent asked what tar and feathering
meant, and Barnes replied that tar and feathering was used
against African-Americans in slavery or even more recently.
Barnes alleges Shockey made the comment again after she
explained what it meant.
officials conducted an investigation and held a meeting to
address Barnes's complaints. Barnes continued making
complaints after the meeting, so in late 2009 her CEP
supervisor authorized her to work from home. About four
months later, Prairie View notified Barnes that her
employment was terminated effective April 15, 2010.
sued Prairie View alleging employment discrimination based on
hostile work environment under the Texas Commission on Human
Rights Act (TCHRA). Prairie View filed a traditional motion
for summary judgment and Barnes timely filed a response. The
trial court granted Prairie View's motion and Barnes
argues in her sole issue on appeal that it was error to grant
Prairie View's traditional motion for summary judgment
because there is evidence creating a genuine issue of
material fact as to her claim of employment discrimination in
the form of a hostile work environment. Prairie View responds
that it has negated, and Barnes cannot establish a genuine
issue of material fact regarding, one or more elements of her
claim. Specifically, Prairie View argues that the evidence
shows Barnes's harassment complaints were not based on
race. Even if based on race, Prairie View contends, those
harassment complaints were not sufficiently pervasive to
constitute a hostile work environment under the governing
legal standard. Prairie View also argues it promptly
responded to Barnes's complaints and investigated her
Standard of review and applicable law
review the trial court's grant of summary judgment de
novo. Valence Operating Co. v. Dorsett, 164 S.W.3d
656, 661 (Tex. 2005). A movant for traditional summary
judgment has the burden of showing there is no genuine issue
of material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Tex.R.Civ.P. 166(a)(c); Mann Frankfort
Stein & Lipp Advisors, Inc. v. Fielding, 289 S.W.3d
844, 848 (Tex. 2009). When the movant is a defendant, a trial
court should grant summary judgment if the defendant
conclusively negates at least one element of the
plaintiff's claim. Frost Nat'l Bank v.
Fernandez, 315 S.W.3d 494, 508 (Tex. 2010). If the
defendant meets ...