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Welsh v. Fort Bend Independent School District

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

June 22, 2017

GUADALUPE A. WELSH, Plaintiff - Appellant
v.
FORT BEND INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendant-Appellee

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas

          Before SMITH and HAYNES, Circuit Judges, and JUNELL, District Judge. [*]

          HAYNES, Circuit Judge

         In this employment dispute, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant Fort Bend Independent School District on the ground that res judicata barred all of Plaintiff Guadalupe Welsh's claims. Because it appears that some of Welsh's claims were not mature at the time of filing her previous lawsuit, we VACATE and REMAND for the district court to determine what claims remain in light of this opinion.

         I.

         Plaintiff Guadalupe A. Welsh is a teacher at Defendant Fort Bend Independent School District ("FBISD"). She filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC") alleging discrimination and retaliation on August 15, 2012. Welsh amended that charge on June 19, 2014, stating that the discrimination and retaliation was ongoing, and she received her right-to-sue letter on June 30, 2014.

         On September 26, 2014, Welsh filed a lawsuit against FBISD in the district court for Fort Bend County (Welsh I). In Welsh I, Welsh alleged that she "was passed over for jobs as an administrator because of her sex, female, her national origin, Hispanic, and her age, which is over 40." She further alleged that she was retaliated against for filing her 2012 EEOC charge. Accordingly, she brought claims for discrimination, hostile work environment, and retaliation under Chapter 21 of the Texas Labor Code.

         On December 16, 2014, FBISD filed a plea to the jurisdiction in Welsh I, wherein FBISD maintained, inter alia, that Welsh's claims were barred by the statute of limitations because she filed her lawsuit more than two years after she filed her charge. The state district court granted the plea to the jurisdiction and dismissed Welsh's claims in Welsh I on January 9, 2015.

         Later that same month, Welsh filed another charge with the EEOC, alleging discrimination and retaliation for incidents occurring between April 3, 2014, and December 19, 2014. Welsh received her right-to-sue letter, and on May 12, 2015, she filed this case against FBISD in the Southern District of Texas ("Welsh II"). In Welsh II, Welsh brought claims against FBISD for discrimination under Title VII and the ADEA. In support of these claims, Welsh alleged the following facts:

(1) On April 3, 2014, she was placed under a "Teacher in Need of Assistance" ("TINA") Plan for reasons that were fabricated;
(2) On April 29, 2014, she received a Professional Development and Appraisal System, Summative Annual Report ("PDAS"), which stated that she had been placed on a TINA Plan and FBISD "would not remove the disparaging memoranda";
(3) On July 9, 2014, Welsh requested a letter of recommendation from the principal but received no response;
(4) During "the Fall semester of 2014, " FBISD deliberately failed to provide her with accommodation information for her students as a means of fabricating another reprimand against her;
(5) On September 16, 2014, Welsh filed a grievance requesting that the TINA Plan be removed from her file, that all mentions of the grievance be removed from her file, and that ...

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