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Equal Employment Opportunity, Commission v. Ryan's Pointe Houston, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. Texas

July 18, 2019

Equal Employment Opportunity, Commission, et al., Plaintiffs,
Ryan's Pointe Houston, LLC, et al., Defendants.


          Lynn N. Hughes, United States District Judge

         1. Introduction.

         The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Ryan's Pointe Houston, LLC, and Advantage Property Management, LLC, on behalf of Magali Villalobos for national origin and sex discrimination. Because it cannot support its claims, it will take nothing.

         2. Background.

         Ryan's Pointe is a 280-unit residential apartment complex. Advantage manages it. In December 2011, Hayman Advisors entered a bookkeeping agreement with Creative Property Management Company. Creative assisted with payroll services for employees at Ryan's Pointe.

         Villalobos served as the interim property manager. She was hired as an assistant manager based on her representation that she had been an assistant manager for C & C (Bala Ram), an apartment complex. When Tawana Rowghani, the property manager for Ryan's Pointe, was fired, Villalobos, by default, became the interim property manager. Her responsibilities included maintenance, finding creditworthy tenants, and collecting rent. In February 2012, Advantage employed Bobbie Dusek as its regional supervisor; that made her Villalobos's supervisor.

         Dusek prepared a thirty-day review of the property and its staff. She found Villalobos unqualified for her position as property manager because she was (a) late to work; (b) leaving early; (c) excessively absent; (d) sending invoices late; and (e) unable to lower the rate of rent delinquencies. Dusek met with Villalobos to discuss the deficiencies of the complex under her control. Dusek says Villalobos gave her the impression that she thought that she did not need to improve her work.

         On March 8, Dusek orally warned Villalobos because she had not improved operations. She says that Villalobos told her she was pregnant and she needed the next day for an abortion. Dusek approved. Four days later, Dusek gave her a written warning. Villalobos declined to sign it. After that, Dusek recommended to the owners of the complex that Villalobos be fired.

         Dusek fired Villalobos in late March. She was replaced by Rebecca Johnson. Since then, delinquencies declined, occupancy increased, and fewer tenants have criminal histories. The Commission has sued on behalf of Villalobos. It claims that Ryan's Pointe and Advantage discriminated against her based on national origin and sex.

         3. National Origin.

         The Commission first says that Ryan's Pointe and Advantage discriminated against Villalobos because, as she describes herself, she is Mexican. Villalobos was not terminated because of her national origin. She did not perform her duties as property manager and was not qualified to be a property manager in the first place. The Commission has not shown that Villalobos was fired for any reason other than that she was a bad employee.

         To establish discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Villalobos and the Commission must show that: (a) Villalobos is a member of a protected class; (b) she was qualified for her position; (c) she was subject to an adverse employment action; and (d) others outside of the protected class, who were similarly situated, were treated more favorably.[1]

         Villalobos and the Commission have not established a prima facie case for discrimination because Villalobos was not qualified for her last position. She was originally hired as a leasing agent by her former business, C & C. She was only hired as an assistant manager by Ryan's Pointe because she claimed she was an assistant manager at C &" C. She then stayed on as assistant manager when Ryan's Pointe and Advantage bought the property. She became property manager by default when Rowghani left. Only later was it discovered that Villalobos had misrepresented her previous managerial experience, and in fact possessed little managerial experience or skills.

         Even if Villalobos were qualified to be property manager, Ryan's Pointe and Advantage fired Villalobos for objective, measurable, work-related, nondiscriminatory reasons. Once an employee establishes a prima facie case for discrimination, the burden shifts to the employer to produce evidence of a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the adverse employment action. If this ...

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