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Apache Corporation v. Davis

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District

April 23, 2019

APACHE CORPORATION, Appellant
v.
CATHRYN C. DAVIS, Appellee

          On Appeal from the 152nd District Court, Harris County, Texas, Trial Court Cause No. 2014-23898

          Panel consists of Justices Christopher, Wise, and Hassan.

          SUBSTITUTE OPINION

          KEN WISE, JUSTICE

         Appellant Apache Corporation appeals a judgment in favor of its former paralegal, appellee Cathryn C. Davis, on her retaliation claim under Chapter 21 of the Texas Labor Code. See Tex. Lab. Code § 21.055. A jury found that Davis filed a complaint of age or gender discrimination with Apache and that Apache discharged Davis because she filed the complaint. The jury also found that Davis engaged in misconduct and that Apache would have legitimately discharged her solely on that basis. The jury awarded Davis no back pay and no future compensatory damages, but it did award $150, 000 in past compensatory damages for Davis's emotional pain and suffering and other noneconomic losses related to the retaliation claim. The parties tried Davis's claim for attorneys' fees to the bench, and the trial court awarded Davis $767, 242 in attorneys' fees plus an additional $100, 000 in conditional appellate fees.

         Apache challenges the trial court's judgment in four issues, arguing there is legally insufficient evidence that Davis engaged in protected activity, but-for causation is lacking, the jury charge is erroneous based on Casteel error, [1] and the attorneys' fees awarded by the trial court are unreasonable and unsupported by sufficient evidence. After reviewing the record, we conclude legally sufficient evidence supports the jury's findings that Davis engaged in a protected activity and that Apache retaliated against her for making a complaint. Given our disposition of Apache's first two issues, we conclude there was no Casteel error. We further conclude regarding the attorneys' fees that there is sufficient evidence to support the award of fees with the exception of a portion of the fees awarded for Dennis Herlong's time. In our original opinion, we suggested a remittitur as to those fees in the amount of $70, 626. See Tex. R. App. P. 46.3. Davis has timely filed a remittitur. We therefore modify the trial court's judgment to change the amount of attorneys' fees awarded to $696, 616, and affirm the judgment as modified.

         Background

         Davis began working in Apache's litigation department in March 2006. At the time of her hire, Davis was 52 years old and had many years of experience as a paralegal. Attorney Roxanne Armstrong supervised the department and hired Davis for the position of Senior Paralegal.[2] The department included two other female paralegals, Laurie Fielder and Courtney Eldridge, both of whom were younger than Davis but had been at Apache several years longer. In 2007, Apache replaced Armstrong with attorney Dominic Ricotta as head of the litigation department. By all accounts, Davis performed her work well, as reflected in her performance reviews, and the parties enjoyed a good working relationship for the next several years.

         I. Changes at Apache that led to Davis's complaint of discrimination

         Davis contends that this working relationship changed and Apache began discriminating against her in July 2010. At that time, Ricotta promoted Eldridge to Senior Paralegal (the same title as Davis) and gave Fielder, who was already a Senior Paralegal, the additional title of E-Discovery Coordinator. Fielder had been handling the e-discovery duties and Ricotta wanted to give her the title to reflect the additional work that she had been doing, while also giving her a pay increase of $5, 100 to account for the additional work. The $5, 100 pay increase was determined by Human Resources based on a market comparison of what others in the industry with similar responsibilities earned. After the promotion, Eldridge continued to earn less money than Davis, but Fielder's pay increase based on the e-discovery responsibilities placed her base salary $4, 400 per year higher than Davis's base salary.

         Davis did not receive a promotion or additional responsibilities. Ricotta stated that Davis, as a Senior Paralegal, already held the highest position available for a paralegal at Apache. Apache considered Fielder's position that encompassed Senior Paralegal and E-Discovery Coordinator to be a hybrid position not applicable to Davis.[3]

         In October 2010, Ricotta announced at a litigation department meeting these promotion and title changes for Eldridge and Fielder. Ricotta did not mention Davis at the meeting. Davis stated she was embarrassed and surprised at the announcement because Davis was Ricotta's right-hand paralegal and had twice as many years of paralegal experience as Eldridge and Fielder. In early November 2010, Davis attempted to raise the issue of a promotion with Ricotta. When Davis referenced the promotions for Eldridge and Fielder, Ricotta quickly responded that Fielder did not get a promotion, merely a title change, and seemed to be angry with her for asking. A short time later Davis again tried to raise the issue with Ricotta by asking what promotional opportunities were available for her at Apache. Davis stated that Ricotta responded in a very mocking tone that the only way she would get a promotion was to become a lawyer. Davis then brought up the special research projects and help with reconciling outside legal fees that she had been performing for Ricotta. According to Davis, Ricotta responded that he could get an accountant to do that and he could cut her salary. Ricotta denied threatening Davis regarding her salary.

         Davis also spoke with Apache's employment lawyer, David Bernal. She believed she had been passed over in receiving a promotion because of her age and told Bernal that she did not understand why she had been passed over when she was older than the other paralegals and had twice as much experience.[4] Davis acknowledged that there was no position to which Apache could promote her but felt Apache should give her an additional title, as it had for Fielder. Around the same time she spoke with Bernal, Davis also sent an email to Ricotta asking that Apache provide in-house continuing education programs for paralegals and consider additional titles for the most experienced paralegals "as an affirmation that Apache is continually investing in and advancing its valuable and veteran paralegals." At trial, Davis stated she was thinking of three other "older" paralegals with experience similar to hers that she felt should have additional titles: Mary Heinitz, Regina Broughton-Smith, and Susie Zaccaria. Davis specifically requested that Apache consider the title "Senior Paralegal and Legal Research Specialist" for herself. Apache then gave her that title, but it did not come with an increase in salary.

         Davis testified that after the promotions for Eldridge and Fielder and discussions with Ricotta regarding promotion opportunities for herself, her working relationship with Ricotta continued to deteriorate. Things felt tense and she was "walking on eggshells" around him, in contrast to their prior "great working relationship." By October 2011, Davis chose to apply for a paralegal opening in the Apache Corporate Secretary's office even though the position paid less than Davis's current position. A younger employee, Melissa Garcia, was filling the position on an interim basis and had more corporate experience than Davis. The Corporate Secretary (a woman the same age as Davis) chose to keep Garcia in the position and did not hire Davis.

         Davis testified about two other incidents regarding Ricotta that occurred over the next several months. First, Ricotta replaced a retiring legal assistant with an accountant, who was younger than Davis, to handle the legal fee reconciliation that both Davis and Ricotta had performed. Second, Ricotta asked Davis to stop taking service of process papers out of another employee's tray.[5] When she asked Ricotta why, Ricotta told her it was confusing. Davis viewed this request as Ricotta taking responsibilities away from her.

         On November 12, 2012, Ricotta sent an email to all personnel in the litigation department regarding their projected schedules for 2013. Apache had a policy in effect regarding office hours and scheduling, which provided that Apache's official operating hours were 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Fridays. Ricotta, who traveled frequently, had allowed employees to monitor their own schedules and permitted flexibility in start and end times. Davis utilized the flexible schedule often, generally working Monday, Wednesday, and Friday beginning at 9:00 or 10:00 a.m. and staying late, often until 9:30 p.m., and Tuesday and Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. This schedule allowed Davis to take extended breaks to transport her college-age daughter to and from her college campus.[6] By mid-November 2012, however, Ricotta had attended a management conference where he was reminded of the office-hours policy, and he wanted to make sure his staff had committed to a schedule that complied with the policy.

         In Ricotta's November 12, 2012 email, he reminded the employees of the normal Apache office hours and asked each person to submit a proposed schedule for the coming year. He stated in the email that regular business hours were preferred but he would consider requests to adjust the schedule within reason, giving as examples 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Ricotta also stated that overtime hours would have to be approved in advance.[7] Staff members other than Davis responded to Ricotta's email with a proposed schedule within Apache's general business hours, or with a start time no later than 8:30 a.m., thus satisfying in Ricotta's mind the corporate policy outlined in the email.[8] Davis submitted a request based on her current schedule that allowed her to transport her daughter to and from college classes, asking to continue arriving between 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. and staying late.

         Ricotta responded by asking Davis to submit a request that kept as many of her 40 work hours per week within "normal Apache business hours." Davis then asked to start each day between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m., while still allowing flexibility for transporting her daughter to classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Apache HR manager Mark Forbes, whom Ricotta had brought in to help in responding to Davis's request, instructed Ricotta that a start time after 8:30 would not be permitted under the policy and that Davis could not leave during the day to transport her daughter. Ricotta then told Davis that a 9:00 a.m. start time would not be within company policy, but that he could approve a schedule for Davis of 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. with one hour for lunch. Davis sent an email to Ricotta stating that the group's success and her own excellent work product was the result of the previously supported flexible schedules. Davis resubmitted her request to start between 8:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. and stated she was "hopeful that you will weigh the benefits of allowing me to continue my career at Apache utilizing my current flexible working arrangement." Ricotta viewed Davis's request for the same proposed schedule he had previously rejected to be insubordination. He also felt that Davis's requests for late arrivals, long breaks during the day, and unusually late departure times were not a reasonable accommodation from the company's general office hours.

         Davis also responded to Ricotta's November 12, 2012 email with questions regarding the requirement of overtime pre-approval. Because Eldridge and Fielder took back-to-back maternity leaves in 2012, Davis had incurred a substantial amount of overtime. Ricotta stated that Davis's overtime within that same time period made sense to him because of the maternity leaves. Davis queried whether the new policy on overtime hours related to cost-cutting issues and stated that she would be happy to stop working overtime hours immediately, although she hoped she had earned his trust "to be discerning so that I would not have to ask every time" when trying to meet a deadline. Ricotta confirmed that the change in position on overtime related to Apache's focus on cost control and on Ricotta's efforts to allocate work effectively so that no one had too much work. The second day after this email, Davis, who had not yet changed her schedule, accidentally worked two hours of overtime without advance approval. She informed Ricotta, but he did not reprimand her or tell her she had violated a directive.

         On Thursday, November 29, 2012, Davis requested vacation time for the afternoon and following day. That morning, Ricotta asked Davis to perform research. Davis could not complete the assignment before she was scheduled to leave for the afternoon and sent Ricotta an email letting him know. In the email, Davis offered to finish the project in the evening or over the weekend, which would require overtime. Ricotta responded that Davis should give him what she had so far, pick up the project the following week, and that overtime for his research was unnecessary. Davis received Ricotta's email but felt it would be a waste of attorney time to give him the research in its current state. She thus worked through the night, a total of approximately twelve hours of overtime, and sent him an email with the information on Friday morning. Ricotta replied that Davis should not have worked overtime without his approval, that this was the second time she worked overtime without prior approval, and that he "expect[ed] her to follow his instruction regarding overtime without exception." Davis found Ricotta's response extremely upsetting, stating it caused her to go into convulsive breathing.

         Ricotta testified that this overtime incident, coupled with Davis's failure to give him a proposed schedule that was within company policy, led him to seriously contemplate terminating Davis's employment. Asked to rate where he was in the decision-making process on a scale of one to ten in favor of termination, Ricotta stated he was at an eight. Davis testified that in the two years since November 2010 when she attempted to speak with Ricotta about promotional opportunities, Ricotta continued to give her "little jabs" and she could not live with it anymore.

         II. Davis's complaint of discrimination and Apache's investigation

         Davis spent the weekend drafting an email to Ricotta, Bernal, and Forbes. The email, sent on December 3, 2012, states in pertinent part as follows:

It is with deep regret that after working for you so loyally for over five years at Apache Corporation that I must formally claim that you have created a hostile work environment for me in the Legal Department . . . . Therefore, I am also hereby reporting this to the Company via our HR Lawyer, David Bernal, and the Director of HR-North America, Mark Forbes. In the near future, I will describe certain particular abusive incidents and provide evidence of emails where you have belittled and bullied me, especially during the past two weeks, and almost on a daily basis.
I know that you are aware that your beat downs, intimidation, refusal to discuss these issues with me, and refusal to discuss issues relative to career advancement have caused me great emotional distress because many of our discussions have ended with me in tears, yet you appeared to be indifferent and never expressed remorse. In fact, as I told you some months ago, your devastating words to me caused nearly a year of depression and prompted me to seek employment in the office of the Company's Corporate Secretary (and elsewhere). . . . If this doesn't evoke any empathy from you, perhaps you should imagine your reaction if your wife or daughter was subjected to similar offensive behavior.
I believe that in the past few weeks, you have deliberately intensified your derisive words toward me, have begun setting me up for failure, and have taken a radical attitude against the long-established flextime of your team . . . . It seems only a matter of time before you take the "kill shot." . . .
. . . I have concluded that you are trying to either drive me out of Apache or are preparing to dismiss me after setting me up to fail. And it has not escaped me that you have already taken a few steps to overcome the void that will exist on our litigation team after you accomplish my termination and complete your plan to circumvent legal challenges to the "age discrimination" and "woman discrimination" components, which violate both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. . . . It is the epitome of undeserved hostility and betrayal that prompts my formal claim.
Please note that although I only briefly touched upon the "woman discrimination" aspect of my claim, I have observed and experienced the Company's pervasive negative attitude toward advancing or recognizing the contributions or accomplishments of its female employees. Enough said on that for now; I will elaborate on this issue when I provide the details to the incidents which I reference herein.
. . . I advise that this offensive conduct is unwelcome and it will no longer be tolerated by me. Clearly, although you are a brilliant litigator who has successfully pounded numerous adversaries into the dust, you must stop the intimidation and sabotage of your loyal paralegal. However, if you choose to use your power, position, and legal expertise to make a bigger issue out of this claim, with God's grace, I am prepared to take this claim to another level. Please note that I have done my homework and am well aware that the Company is automatically liable for harassment by a supervisor that results in a negative employment action such as termination, failure to promote, and loss of wages . . . . And it goes almost without saying that you are certainly aware that the law has made it illegal to fire, demote, harass, or otherwise retaliate against an employee because he/she has complained about discriminatory practices.

         After receiving the email, Bernal responded to Davis and informed her that the company takes all allegations and complaints of harassment seriously and that it would open an investigation. Davis testified that after she filed her complaint on December 3, 2012, Ricotta shunned her, indicated he was angry with her, and stopped giving her any substantive work.

         Apache began its investigation of Davis's claims, with Bernal interviewing Davis and other members of the legal department over the next several weeks. Bernal conceded that Ricotta was his superior and that it could create the appearance of a conflict of interest for the investigator to be investigating a subordinate's claim against his boss, but he felt there was no actual bias. About three weeks after she sent her December 3, 2012 email, Davis gave Bernal a document she had prepared entitled Hostile Workforce Timeline. The timeline began November 12, 2012, with Ricotta's email requesting schedules for 2013, and ended on December 19, 2012, with an informal meeting between Bernal and Davis. It covered the emails between Davis and Ricotta regarding Davis's proposed and rejected schedule for 2013 as well as the November 29, 2012 overtime incident. Davis conceded that the timeline did not have any notes contending she was the victim of age discrimination. On January 9, 2013, Bernal emailed Davis notice that he had found no evidence of discrimination and that he was closing the investigation. Davis thanked Bernal for doing the investigation but stated that she did not trust Ricotta and wanted to work only with Bernal.

         Bernal told Ricotta that he could continue his deliberations regarding Davis's employment and do what he thought was "in the best interest of the Legal Group to ensure a cohesive unit going forward." Bernal stated he instructed Ricotta he could not in any way retaliate against Davis for filing the complaint. Bernal also told Ricotta about Davis's comment that she could no longer trust Ricotta and wanted to work only with Bernal. When Ricotta asked for Bernal's opinion regarding what to do with Davis, Bernal told him he should terminate Davis's employment. Ricotta then interviewed the employees in the legal department to obtain information about Davis's efforts to "stoke a rebellion" over the hours policy. Ricotta learned that one of the attorneys preferred not to work with Davis and that Davis had made some unusual religiously-charged comments. Bernal told Ricotta that he believed Davis was unstable and that he did not like working with her.

         III. Davis's termination, EEOC charge, and lawsuit

         Ricotta ultimately decided to terminate Davis's employment and informed her of this fact on January 25, 2013. The parties disagree on the reasons given for Davis's termination. Davis contends Ricotta told her she was being fired for the reasons of arriving late to work, not doing her work, and working overtime without approval, which Davis regarded as false reasons. Ricotta contends he discharged Davis because she failed to turn in a schedule, worked overtime at least twice without approval, made inappropriate comments in the workplace, and told Bernal she no longer wished to work with Ricotta.

         Davis timely filed a charge of discrimination with the EEOC. In the charge, Davis checked the boxes for retaliation and age but did not check the box for sex. She complained of age discrimination and retaliation for filing a good-faith complaint of age discrimination, but she did not mention gender discrimination or retaliation for filing a complaint of gender discrimination. After the EEOC issued a right-to-sue letter, Davis filed this lawsuit asserting claims for age discrimination and retaliation. She did not pursue a claim for gender discrimination.

         The trial court submitted several questions to the jury. In Jury Question No. 1, the jury was asked whether age was a motivating factor in Apache's decision to discharge Davis, to which the jury responded "no." In Jury Question No. 3, the jury was asked whether Davis filed "a complaint of age or gender discrimination" with Apache on December 3, 2012. The jury was instructed that Davis had to prove both that: (1) she filed a complaint that put Apache on notice of acts of age or gender discrimination; and (2) as of December 3, 2012, Davis had a good faith, objectively reasonable belief that age or gender discrimination occurred based on circumstances that she observed and reasonably believed. The jury answered "yes" to Jury Question No. 3. In Jury Question No. 4, the jury was asked whether Apache discharged Davis because she filed a complaint of age or gender discrimination on December 3, 2012, to which the jury answered "yes." In Jury Question No. 5, the jury was asked whether Davis engaged in misconduct for which Apache would have legitimately discharged her solely on that basis, to which the jury answered "yes."

         The jury awarded Davis no damages for back pay, no future compensatory damages, and $150, 000 for past compensatory damages including emotional pain and suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other noneconomic losses. The parties tried the issue of attorneys' fees to the bench. The trial court signed a judgment awarding Davis $150, 000 in damages on her retaliation claim, $767, 242 in attorneys' fees through trial, $100, 000 in conditional appellate fees, and prejudgment and post-judgment interest. This appeal followed.

         Analysis

         Apache challenges the trial court's judgment in four issues, arguing the judgment should be reversed because: (1) there is no evidence Davis engaged in a protected activity that could support a retaliation claim; (2) there is no evidence retaliation was the but-for cause of Davis's termination; (3) Davis did not exhaust her claim of retaliation for making a complaint of gender discrimination and no evidence supports the jury's finding she made a protected complaint of gender discrimination; thus, Jury Question Nos. 3 and 4 commingled a valid theory of liability with an invalid theory of liability; and (4) the attorneys' fees awarded were neither reasonable nor necessary and based on inadmissible and insufficient evidence. We first address Apache's issue regarding exhaustion of her claim of retaliation for making a complaint of gender discrimination because it pertains to the court's jurisdiction. See In re City of Dallas, 501 S.W.3d 71, 73 (Tex. 2016) (orig. proceeding) (per curiam). We then turn to Apache's remaining issues.

         I. Davis exhausted her remedy with regard to her claim of retaliation for filing a complaint of gender discrimination.

         The Labor Code maintains a comprehensive system of administrative review for claims of unlawful employment practices. See Czerwinski v. Univ. of Tex. Health Sci. Ctr. at Houston Sch. of Nursing, 116 S.W.3d 119, 122 (Tex. App.- Houston [14th Dist.] 2002, pet. denied).[9] A person claiming to be aggrieved by an unlawful employment practice in violation of Chapter 21 must exhaust her administrative remedies before bringing a lawsuit. Waffle House, Inc. v. Williams, 313 S.W.3d 796, 804 (Tex. 2010); Czerwinski, 116 S.W.3d at 121-22. The exhaustion requirement is a "mandatory prerequisite" to suit in Texas. Schroeder v. Tex. Iron Works, Inc., 813 S.W.2d 483, 488 (Tex. 1991), overruled on other grounds by In re United Servs. Auto Ass'n, 307 S.W.3d 299, 310 (Tex. 2010); Sw. Convenience Stores, LLC v. Mora, 560 S.W.3d 362, 400 (Tex. App.-El Paso 2018, no pet.).

         To exhaust her remedies, a plaintiff is required to file an administrative charge with the EEOC or the Texas Workforce Commission. Williams, 313 S.W.3d at 804-05; Mora, 560 S.W.3d at 400. The exhaustion requirement affords the administrative agency the opportunity to investigate the allegation, informally eliminate any discrimination, and minimize costly litigation. See Tex. Lab. Code §§ 21.203, 21.204(a), 21.207(a); Czerwinski, 116 S.W.3d at 121. "In short, unless and until an employee timely submits her complaint against her employer to the EEOC or TWC in the form of a charge of discrimination, Texas courts are barred from adjudicating that complaint." Mora, 560 S.W.3d at 400; see Tex. Dep't of Transp. v. Esters, 343 S.W.3d 226, 231 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2011, no pet.) (holding failure to exhaust deprives the trial court of subject-matter jurisdiction over the unexhausted claims).

         We construe the initial charge liberally and "look slightly beyond its four corners, to its substance rather than its label" in determining whether a claim was included. City of Sugar Land v. Kaplan, 449 S.W.3d 577, 581-82 (Tex. App.- Houston [14th Dist.] 2014, no pet.) (citing Pacheco v. Mineta, 448 F.3d 783, 789 (5th Cir. 2006)). Nevertheless, we do not construe the charge to include facts that were initially omitted. Id. at 582. "A lawsuit under the Act will be limited in scope to only those claims that were included in a timely administrative charge and to factually related claims that could reasonably be expected to grow out of the agency's investigation of the claims stated in the charge." Id. In assessing the claims covered by a charge, the most important element is the factual statement contained therein, rather than the boxes that are checked on the form. Lopez v. Tex. State Univ., 368 S.W.3d 695, 702 (Tex. App.-Austin 2012, pet. denied) (citing Sanchez v. Standard Brands, Inc., 431 F.2d 455, 462 (5th Cir. 1970)).

         In her EEOC charge, Davis stated that she had been abruptly terminated from her employment with Apache by Ricotta for no plausible reason. She related facts regarding the November 12, 2012 scheduling email, her requested accommodation on the schedule, and allegations that Eldridge and Fielder, who were younger than her, were treated better. After stating a claim for age discrimination, Davis asserted her retaliation claim, stating: "When I could no longer tolerate the discrimination and harassment, I reported my good faith belief of age discrimination on December 3, 2012 (See attached as Exhibit 1)." She then stated that, after she reported her belief, Ricotta treated her differently and gave her no substantive work, that she suffered damages, and that a causal link existed between her damages and her good faith report of discrimination. Davis checked the boxes for retaliation and age discrimination but did not check the box for sex discrimination. There is no mention in Davis's charge that she had made a complaint of gender discrimination, no mention of any discriminatory treatment toward women, and no mention that Apache retaliated against her for making a complaint of gender discrimination.

         Apache argues that Davis made no factual allegation in her EEOC charge that could reasonably be expected to grow into a claim of retaliation based on a complaint of gender discrimination. Davis points to the fact that her EEOC charge cites her December 3, 2012 email, and she urges us to look beyond the four corners of the charge to the email, as well as to Apache's response to the EEOC as evidence that she exhausted her retaliation claim for making a complaint of gender discrimination. Davis's EEOC charge did not attach the email, and our record does not include Apache's response to the EEOC.

         The record does, however, include Defense Exhibit 183, which appears to be an electronic response from Davis to the Texas Workforce Commission. In that response, Davis responds to a question asking whether something specific happened that caused her to be fired by stating that she emailed Ricotta on December 3, 2012, and "claimed age and gender discrimination, and stated that such conduct would no longer be tolerated by me." And, at the pretrial hearing on the motion to dismiss, counsel for Apache stated that the December 3, 2012 email was attached to Apache's response to the EEOC. In Patton v. Jacobs Engineering, the Fifth Circuit permitted a plaintiff to show exhaustion of remedies based on an intake questionnaire that was filed with his formal charge. 874 F.3d 437, 443 (5th Cir. 2017). In addition, the defendant's position statement included a response to the challenged claim. Id. at 444. The court held that the plaintiff thus triggered "the investigatory and conciliatory procedures of the EEOC" regarding the challenged claim. Id. We conclude that the electronic response to the Texas Workforce ...


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