Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Barnes v. Prairie View A&M University

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District

June 15, 2017

PATRICE BARNES, Appellant
v.
PRAIRIE VIEW A&M UNIVERSITY, Appellee

         On Appeal from the 506th Judicial District Court Waller County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 11-10-21109

          Panel consists of Justices Boyce, Busby, and Wise.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          J. BRETT BUSBY JUSTICE.

         Appellant 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.

         Background

         Barnes, 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.[1] 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.

         In 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.

         Barnes's 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.

         CEP 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.

         Barnes sued Prairie View alleging employment discrimination based on hostile work environment under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act (TCHRA).[2] 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 appealed.

         Analysis

         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 allegations.[3]

         I. Standard of review and applicable law

         We 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 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.