United States District Court, S.D. Texas
OPINION ON SUMMARY JUDGMENT
N. HUGHES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
university denied tenure to a female professor. The professor
filed a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission and initiated an internal grievance
proceeding with the university. The university did not renew
her employment contract.
professor sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., and the Equal
Pay Act of 1963, 29 U.S.C. §206(d). The university moved
for summary judgment, and the professor responded. The motion
for summary judgment will be granted.
Audrey Miller (Miller) began working at Sam Houston State
University (SHSU) in August 2007 as a tenure-track Assistant
Professor in the Clinical Doctoral Program (Clindoc Program)
in the Department of Psychology and Philosophy. The Clindoc
Program required doctoral students to complete at least seven
semesters of hands-on practicum training with live clients
and a year-long pre-doctoral internship. Miller, along with
approximately ten core faculty members of the Clindoc
Program, was assigned to supervise students working with live
clients. The Director of Clinical Teaching, Mary Alice Conroy
(Conroy), was responsible for assigning students to practice
2010, Miller approached Conroy with data she had compiled on
the division of student supervision workload among the
Clindoc Program faculty. Miller complained about her
workload. Conroy responded that faculty members were expected
to redistribute the workload among themselves if necessary.
(See 70-2 at 26-27) Miller also approached
Department Chair Chris Wilson (Chair Wilson) about the issue.
Chair Wilson did not furnish Miller with relief.
up to her tenure review, in several instances Miller was
advised to recuse herself or was removed from faculty
oversight committees. For example, in May 2012, Miller raised
a concern that a student's dissertation draft was not
ready for defense due to a defect in a core hypothesis.
(See 84-13) Again in January 2013, Miller objected
to a student's proposal to change procedures relating to
the security of forensic psychological reports. (See
85-9) In each case, Miller's opinions were met by other
faculty members' disagreement, including those who were
senior to her. (See 84-16)
faculty committees, Department Promotion and Tenure Advisory
Committee (Department Advisory Committee) and College of
Humanities and Social Sciences Dean's Advisory Committee
on Promotion and Tenure (Dean's Advisory Committee),
recommended tenure decisions for faculty members in the
Clindoc Program. (See 70-7 at 3-6) Rody Miller (R.
Miller) chaired both committees.
February 18, 2012, and May 2, 2012, R. Miller sent letters to
both Dean John de Castro (Dean de Castro) and Chair Wilson
summarizing the Department Advisory Committee's review of
Miller's work in 2011. (70-17 at 8-9, 75-8 at 3-4) The
February 2012 letter stated that Miller's behavior
"has eroded her colleagues' willingness to rely on
her" and that her actions have been
"disadvantageous to students." (70-17 at 8.) The
letter cited an instance where she was removed from a
dissertation committee due to "disruption of student
mentoring and training." (Id.) The May 2012
letter reported that Miller "lack[s] in collaborative
and attentive generosity, " that she is
"egocentric" in using communal resources, and that
she counts her contribution to supervising student work as
"overloads." (75-8 at 3-4.) Miller responded by
sending an e-mail to the Department Advisory Committee
faculty members, voicing her objections to the letter and
requesting guidance on how she can meet the committee's
expectations. [82-12] She also met with R. Miller to discuss
the impact of the letter on her tenure application.
submitted her application for promotion to Associate
Professor with tenure for external review on October 22,
2012, and for internal review on January 3, 2013. (33 at 2)
At that time, the Department of Psychology had nineteen
tenure-track psychology faculty, including thirteen males and
six females. (74-1 at 10)
February 5, 2013, R. Miller sent a third letter to Chair
Wilson, outlining the Department Advisory Committee's
concerns that Miller's collegiality had not improved.
(70-17) The letter stated that Miller exhibited
"obstinacy and inflexibility" that impeded student
research, "thin-skinned spitefulness" directed to
students, and "disrespect for her colleagues'
expertise, and defensive disregard of their advice."
(70-17 at 2) As examples of Miller's behavior, R. Miller
stated that on four occasions, Miller's actions caused
problems with students, including a risk of delay or an
actual delay in a student's dissertation defense.
(Id. at 2-3) R. Miller also wrote that other Clindoc
Program faculty members had expressed their unwillingness to
work with Miller. (Id. at 3)
March 27, 2013, SHSU's Provost and Vice President for
Academic Affairs Jaimie Hebert ("Provost Hebert")
sent Miller a letter stating that her tenure application had
been denied. (70-17 at 12) Miller filed a complaint with the
EEOC and the Texas Workforce Commission ("TWC") on
May 20, 2013. (70-19) On or around July 12, 2013, SHSU denied
Miller a merit increase in salary for the year 2013-14.
(87-19) Her employment with SHSU expired on May 31, 2014. (33
at 3) She filed . this lawsuit on September 28, 2015. (1)
judgment is proper when, viewing the evidence in the light
most favorable to the non-movant, "the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there
is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of
law." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
323 ; see Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). A dispute
about a material fact is "genuine" if the evidence
would allow a reasonable jury to find in favor of the
non-movant. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477
U.S. 242, 248 (1986).
movant meets its burden and points out an absence of evidence
on an essential element of the non-movant's case, on
which the non-movant bears the burden of proof at trial, the
non-movant must then present competent summary judgment
evidence to support the essential elements of her claim and
demonstrate that there is a genuine issue of material fact
for trial. National Ass'n of Gov't Employees v.
City Pub. Serv. Board, 40 F.3d 698, 712 (5th Cir. 1994).
The non-movant may not rely merely on allegations, denials in
a pleading, or unsubstantiated assertions that a fact issue
exists, but she must offer specific facts showing the
existence of a genuine issue of material fact concerning
every element of her causes of action. Morris v. Covan
World Wide Moving, Inc., 144 F.3d 377, 380 (5th Cir.
1998); see Brandon v. Sage Corp., 808 F.3d 266, 270
(5th Cir. 2015) (requiring more than "metaphysical
doubts as to the material facts").
allegations unsupported by evidence cannot overcome summary
judgment. National Ass'n of Gov't Employees,
40 F.3d at 713; Eason v. Thaler, 73 F.3d 1322, 1325
(5th Cir. 1996). "[T]he mere existence of some
alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat
an otherwise properly supported motion for summary
judgment." Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 247-48
(emphasis original); see State Farm Life Ins. Co. v.
Gutterman, 896 F.2d 116, 118 (5th Cir. 1990). "Nor
is the 'mere scintilla of evidence' sufficient;
'there must be evidence on which the jury could
reasonably find for the plaintiff.'" Liberty
Lobby, 477 U.S. at 252. The Fifth Circuit requires the
non-movant to submit "significant probative
evidence." Gutterman, 896 F.2d at 118. "If
the evidence is merely colorable, or is not significantly
probative, summary judgment may be granted." Thomas
v. Barton Lodge II, Ltd., 174 F.3d 636, 644 [5th Cir.
1999) (citing Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 249-50).
Deficiencies in Miller's summary judgment
that there is a genuine fact dispute, the party must cite to
"particular" parts of the record that contain
admissible evidence. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). It
is unreasonable to expect the court to "wade through the
record in an effort to sift out a material factual
dispute." See Phillips Med. Capital, LLC v. P&L
Contracting, Inc., No. 2:10CV92-DAS, 2011 WL 13217913,
at *2 (N.D. Miss. Nov. 21, 2011).
response is 246 pages long and refers to a 128-page
declaration, along with more than 250 exhibits. (See
74-89) Despite its length, much of Miller's response
relies on unsubstantiated assertions that the court cannot
consider. See Morris, 144 F.3d at 380. Her
declaration is full of speculative accusations,
irrelevancies, and hearsay. She has incorporated thousands of
pages of documents by reference. It would take months for the
court to rule on every single evidentiary problem in
Miller's response and summary judgment evidence. For this
reason alone, the court finds that Miller has failed to
demonstrate the existence of a factual dispute.
being said, the court has endeavored to find and consider the
evidence that is most favorable to Miller's case. The
court still finds that Miller has not shown the existence of
a genuine issue of material fact.
makes it unlawful for an employer "to fail or refuse to
hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to
discriminate against any individual with respect to his
compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment,
because of such individual's race, ...