Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio
ALAMO COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT D/B/A Alamo Colleges, Appellant
Douglas RYAN, Appellee
the 131st Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial
Court No. 2013-CI-18732 Honorable Renée Yanta, Judge
Sitting: Marialyn Barnard, Justice, Rebeca C. Martinez,
Justice, Luz Elena D. Chapa, Justice.
Elena D. Chapa, Justice.
an accelerated interlocutory appeal from the trial
court's order partially denying Alamo Community College
District's (ACCD) motion for summary judgment on Douglas
Ryan's employment discrimination claims. We hold ACCD
conclusively established the trial court lacked subject
matter jurisdiction over the claims because Ryan's charge
of discrimination was not filed within 180 days after the
alleged unlawful employment practice occurred. Accordingly,
we reverse the trial court's order and render judgment
dismissing Ryan's suit for lack of jurisdiction.
a junior college district comprised of five colleges,
including Northwest Vista College. Ryan was appointed to a
full-time probationary faculty position at Northwest Vista
College in 2008. A year later, Ryan was placed on tenure
track, also a probationary position. Ryan's performance
was evaluated yearly, and his nine-month contract was renewed
each academic year until 2012.
2012, Ryan's supervisors recommended his contract not be
renewed. The recommendation was based on Ryan's
performance evaluations, disciplinary action due to
"problematic interpersonal relations, " and
Ryan's alleged failure to take remedial steps to address
these issues. On June 28, 2012, Dr. Jacqueline Claunch, the
president of Northwest Vista College, sent Ryan a letter
notifying him that his probationary faculty appointment with
Northwest Vista College would not be renewed. The letter
stated Ryan was being offered a "terminal year
contract" for the 2012-2013 academic year. The letter
advised that if Ryan accepted the terminal year contract, his
"Alamo Colleges employment will cease upon completion of
the Spring 2013 semester" and, pursuant to ACCD
Procedure D.2.5.1, Ryan would "not be eligible for
adjunct appointment following non-renewal of [his]
probationary appointment." Ryan received the letter from
Dr. Claunch on July 5, 2012. He accepted the terminal
contract for the 2012-13 academic year, but he also filed an
administrative appeal or grievance of the notification of
nonrenewal. On September 27, 2012, Dr. Bruce Leslie,
Chancellor of ACCD, ruled that "the non-renewal decision
is not reversed."
sent a complaint letter to the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (EEOC) on January 31, 2013, and on March 8, 2013,
he filed a charge of discrimination with the Texas Workforce
Commission-Civil Rights Division (TWC). Both documents
asserted Ryan received notice of the employment decisions on
July 5, 2012. And both documents complained of the non-
renewal, the terminal year contract, and the ineligibility
for future appointment as an adjunct, alleging these actions
discriminated against him on the bases of race, gender, and
age. After receiving right to sue notices from the EEOC and
the TWC, Ryan filed suit.
petition alleged ACCD committed an unlawful employment
practice by discriminating against him on the basis of sex,
race, and age, and alleged claims only under the Texas
Commission on Human Rights Act (TCHRA). ACCD filed a motion
for summary judgment on multiple grounds, including lack of
subject matter jurisdiction. ACCD asserted that Ryan failed
to file an administrative complaint alleging discrimination
within 180 days of the adverse employment action and that
compliance with the filing deadline is a jurisdictional
prerequisite to suit. See id. Tex. Labor Code Ann.
§ 21.202 (West 2015). Ryan's response to the
jurisdictional challenge in the motion for summary judgment
asserted that Dr. Claunch's June 28, 2012 letter was
merely a "proposal" or a "notice of an
intended adverse action." Ryan argued that because he
grieved the notice by appealing to the chancellor,
"[t]he action did not become an adverse action until the
Chancellor denied his grievance on September 27, 2012, "
and his administrative charge of discrimination was timely
filed within 180 days of that action.
hearing solely on the jurisdictional ground asserted in
ACCD's motion for summary judgment, the trial court
signed an order partially granting the motion. The order
states that ACCD's motion for summary judgment "is
GRANTED as to all claims EXCEPT Plaintiff Douglas Ryan's
claim that Alamo Community College District violated the
Texas Labor Code by barring Plaintiff Douglas Ryan from being
employed as an instructor at all Alamo Community College
District campuses, not just the Northwest Vista Campus."
ACCD filed a timely interlocutory appeal of the order that
partially denied the jurisdictional ground in its motion for
summary judgment. See Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem.
Code Ann. § 51.014(a)(8) (West Supp. 2016); Thomas
v. Long, 207 S.W.3d 334, 339-40 (Tex. 2006).
sole issue before us is the trial court's summary
judgment ruling that it has jurisdiction over Ryan's
claim. We review a summary judgment de novo, taking as true
all evidence favorable to the respondent and indulging all
reasonable inferences and resolving any doubts in the
respondent's favor. Provident Life & Acc. Ins. v.
Knott, 128 S.W.3d 211, 215 (Tex. 2003). The issue of
whether a court has subject matter jurisdiction is a question
of law that we review de novo. City of Dallas v.
Carbajal, 324 S.W.3d 537, 538 (Tex. 2010) (per curiam).
TCHRA requires a plaintiff to file an administrative
complaint with the TWC or the EEOC "not later than the
180th day after the date the alleged unlawful employment
practice occurred." Tex. Labor Code Ann. 21.202(a) (West
2015). The provision is mandatory. Specialty Retailers,
Inc. v. DeMoranville, 933 S.W.2d 490, 492 (Tex. 1996).
Compliance with the 180-day administrative filing requirement
is a statutory prerequisite to suit, and failure to comply
with it is a jurisdictional bar to a suit against a
governmental entity. Prairie View A&M Univ. v.
Chatha, 381 S.W.3d 500, 510-14 (Tex. 2012); see
Tex. Gov't Code Ann. § 311.034 (West 2013). An
unlawful employment practice occurs "when a
discriminatory employment decision is made-not when the
effects of that decision become manifest in later
events." Chatha, 381 S.W.3d at 503. The
"180-day limitations period in the TCHRA begins
'when the employee is informed of the allegedly
discriminatory employment decision.'" Id.
at 509 (quoting Specialty Retailers, 933 S.W.2d at
493). In order to invoke the jurisdiction of the trial court,
Ryan was therefore required to file his administrative charge
of discrimination with the EEOC or the TWC within 180 days of
being informed of the allegedly discriminatory employment
suit complains of the decision not to renew his contract and
to instead offer him a one year terminal contract, after
which he would not be eligible for rehire by ACCD as an
adjunct. The undisputed evidence establishes that Ryan
received Dr. Claunch's June 28 letter no later than July
5. The evidence is also undisputed that Ryan did not file an
administrative charge with the TWC or the EEOC within 180
days of July 5. However, Ryan did ...