Appeal from the 151st District Court Harris County, Texas
Trial Court Case No. 2016-26124
consists of Justices Bland, Lloyd, and Caughey.
an interlocutory appeal from a denial of a school
district's plea to the jurisdiction concerning its former
employee's claims for disability discrimination and
retaliation under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act.
See Tex. Lab. Code §§ 21.051, 21.055; Tex.
Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code § 51.014(a)(8). The school
district contends that the trial court erred in denying its
plea because the evidence does not raise a fact issue
demonstrating that it violated the antidiscrimination law by
(1) failing to provide its employee with reasonable
accommodations, or (2) retaliating against the employee for
engaging in protected activity by giving her an unfavorable
reference. We reverse and remand.
Massey worked for Aldine Independent School District as a
paraprofessional in Stehlik Intermediate School, under the
direct supervision of the school principal, Christi Van
Wassenhove. Her primary duties consisted of monitoring
students in the school's computer lab to ensure that they
were performing assigned work. Massey's regular ancillary
duties included assisting other faculty and staff with metal
detector duty at the beginning of the school day. This task
required standing while monitoring students and checking
their belongings at the metal detector in the morning before
they entered the building. She also had lunch duty, which
entailed monitoring students' behavior during their lunch
periods to maintain order. At times, Massey performed other
ancillary duties, including supervising the
second-to-last day of school in June 2014, Massey injured her
hip when a student pushed her into a door as she attempted to
open it. Massey sought medical attention and did not return
to school for the last day. During the 2014 summer recess,
Massey was diagnosed with a fractured hip. In late August, a
different treating physician opined that Massey was not ready
to return to work. On September 15, the physician examined
Massey again. This time, the physician released Massey for
work, with the restriction that she perform seated light duty
work with no lifting or carrying.
accommodate Massey's physical restrictions, on September
23, the school principal gave Massey a written offer of
modified duty. The offer consisted of metal detector duty,
which was modified to require no lifting or carrying, and
would be performed while Massey remained seated. Massey would
perform this duty with at least one other employee, who could
assist her, if needed. Massey also continued to monitor
students during their lunch period. The school modified
Massey's lunch monitor duties to allow her to sit near
the stage instead of walking around the cafeteria like the
other monitors. Massey accepted the restrictions and signed
the offer of accommodation. She admitted that the principal
offered her accommodations tailored to match her physical
restrictions each time she provided updated work status
reports from her physician.
December 5, 2014, Massey's physician cleared Massey to
return to work without any restrictions. The school
nevertheless continued to allow Massey to sit during her
morning duty at the metal detector, during lunch duty, and
while monitoring in the computer lab.
February 2015, Massey fell while walking to the computer lab.
Massey was treated at a hospital and released the same day.
She spent the next week recuperating at home. After that
week, her physician released her to return to work with the
• up to two hours of standing;
• eight hours of sitting;
• no kneeling or ...