United States District Court, S.D. Texas
OPINION ON SUMMARY JUDGMENT
N. HUGHES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
female professor sought employment with a university after
being denied tenure at another institution. The university
denied her employment. The professor sued the university,
claiming that the university engaged in retaliation
prohibited by Title VII. The university moved for summary
judgment. It will be granted.
Audrey Miller (Miller) was a tenure-track professor at Sam
Houston State University (SHSU). SHSU denied her tenure.
Miller filed a complaint against the school with the United
States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Texas
Workforce Commission on May 20, 2013. Miller's employment
with SHSU expired in May 2014.
parties stipulate to these facts about Miller's
interactions with Defendant University of Houston - Downtown
(UH). (22, 27) On December 8, 2013, Miller applied for
employment with UH as a tenure-track Assistant Professor of
Psychology. Around January or February 2014, UH's
Psychology Department Chair Jeffrey Jackson (Chair Jackson)
and College of Humanities & Social Sciences Dean DoVeanna
Fulton [Dean Fulton) approved twenty candidates for telephone
interviews, . including Miller. On March 17, 2014, members of
the faculty search committee interviewed Miller on campus.
During the interview, Miller told the chair of the committee,
Ruth Johnson (Committee Chair Johnson) that she was denied
tenure at SHSU because "[she] was a woman and because
[she] had raised concerns about the mistreatment of women in
the department at SHSU before applying for tenure."
(59-1 at 8)
internal emails dated April 4, 2014, Committee Chair Johnson
notified Chair Jackson that Miller was a finalist. (27 at 2)
In a separate email to Chair Jackson, Committee Chair Johnson
noted that Miller was a "#2 candidate."
April 4, 2014, Committee Chair Johnson emailed Miller about
UH's request to contact SHSU's department chair,
Chris Wilson ("Wilson"). On April 7, 2014, Chair
Jackson had a phone call with Wilson. Chair Jackson did not
contact other candidates' former employers. On April 8,
2014, Wilson sent an email to Chair Jackson explaining that
some of Miller's issues at SHSU could have been caused by
other tenured faculty members with difficult personalities.
notified Miller on April 29, 2014, that she did not get the
job. Miller filed a complaint with the EEOC and the TWC
against UH on October 23, 2014. She filed this lawsuit
against UH on October 6, 2015.
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 (1986); 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 .
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, ...