United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
F. ATLAS SENIOR STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
pregnancy discrimination case is before the Court on the
Motion for Summary Judgment (“Motion”) [Doc. #
27] filed by Defendant Criterion Supply, Inc.
(“Criterion”). Plaintiff Elizabeth Levins filed a
Response [Doc. # 30], and Criterion filed a Reply [Doc. #
34]. Having reviewed the record and applicable legal
authorities, the Court grants the Motion.
began working for Golden Creek Carpets, Inc. in August 2002
as a customer service representative. Criterion acquired
Golden Creek Carpets, Inc. in June 2009. From January 7, 2014
until February 24, 2014, Plaintiff was on maternity leave. In
January 2015, following her return to work from the maternity
leave, Plaintiff was promoted to Market Manager in
Criterion's Houston office.
Plaintiff was in the Market Manager position, Criterion
management received complaints regarding Plaintiff's
interactions with other employees. Specifically,
Criterion's President, Catherine “Cathi”
Brock, counseled Plaintiff regarding complaints by a female
subordinate who was threatening to leave the company
“because of [Plaintiff's]
behavior.” See Deposition of Catherine
Brock, Exh. 22 to Motion, p. 92. Additionally, Brock was
notified by Nicole Strong, Criterion's Houston Branch
Manager, that employees working the “order desk”
complained that Plaintiff “was not treating them
well.” See Id. at 169.
2017, Plaintiff notified Criterion that she was pregnant. In
June 2017, Brock met with Plaintiff to discuss the various
complaints that had been reported. Brock at that time placed
Plaintiff on an improvement plan.
14, 2017, Plaintiff attended a scheduled weekly branch
meeting. Strong reported that she attempted to discuss some
problems with Plaintiff's performance. See
Strong Statement, Exh. 23 to Motion. Strong reported that
Plaintiff threw a notebook across the table toward Strong,
after which Strong threw the notebook and Plaintiff's
cell phone out of the conference room. See id.
21, 2017, a male Criterion employee, Shane Vasquez, informed
Criterion Manager Jodi Otten that Plaintiff had made
“numerous passes at him.” See Otten
Statement, Exh. 24 to Motion. Specifically, Vasquez reported
that while Plaintiff was looking over his shoulder at his
computer screen, she said “I hope you don't mind if
I put my titties on your back.” See id.
24, 2017, Otten reported Vasquez's statement to Alex
Soderlund in Criterion's Human Resources Department.
See Soderlund Statement, Exh. 25 to Motion. That
same day, Soderlund began an investigation, and he informed
Plaintiff by telephone and by letter that she was being
placed on paid leave. See Soderlund Letter, Exh. 27
of the investigation, Soderlund obtained a written statement
from Vasquez. In the written statement dated July 26, 2017,
Vasquez reported several incidents of inappropriate comments
to him by Plaintiff beginning in October 2016. See
Vasquez Statement, Exh. 26 to Motion. Vasquez described the
same incident he had related to Otten where, in February
2017, Plaintiff made a comment to himi about her
“tits” while looking over his shoulder. See
Id. Vasquez stated that Plaintiff's behavior was
uncomfortable for him. See id.
August 1, 2017, Criterion terminated Plaintiff's
employment. Plaintiff was replaced by Claribel
(“Bella”) Vignola. At the time Criterion hired
Vignola, Brock had been informed by the recruiter that
Vignola was pregnant. See Brock Depo., p. 182.
August 23, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Charge of Discrimination
with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(“EEOC”). See Charge of Discrimination,
Exh. 19 to Motion. Plaintiff alleged that she was
discriminated against because she was pregnant. See
obtaining a Notice of Right to Sue from the EEOC on April 5,
2018, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit on April 23, 2018. After
discovery was completed, Criterion filed its Motion for
Summary Judgment. The Motion has been fully briefed and is
now ripe for decision.