715 Fed.Appx. 351 (5th Cir. 2017), 16-11611, Eaton-Stephens v. Grapevine Colleyville Independent School District
|Citation:||715 Fed.Appx. 351|
|Opinion Judge:||PER CURIAM:|
|Party Name:||Linda K. EATON-STEPHENS, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. GRAPEVINE COLLEYVILLE INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendant-Appellee.|
|Attorney:||Gary Lynn Bledsoe, Bledsoe Law Firm, L.L.P., Austin, TX, for Plaintiff-Appellant Thomas E. Myers, Brackett & Ellis, P.C., Fort Worth, TX, for Defendant-Appellee|
|Judge Panel:||Before KING, JONES, and ELROD, Circuit Judges.|
|Case Date:||November 13, 2017|
|Court:||United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit|
Please Refer Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure Rule 32.1. See also U.S.Ct. of App. 5th Cir. Rules 28.7 and 47.5.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, USDC No. 4:15-CV-582
Gary Lynn Bledsoe, Bledsoe Law Firm, L.L.P., Austin, TX, for Plaintiff-Appellant
Thomas E. Myers, Brackett & Ellis, P.C., Fort Worth, TX, for Defendant-Appellee
Before KING, JONES, and ELROD, Circuit Judges.
This appeal arises from the district courts grant of summary judgment in favor of Grapevine Colleyville Independent School District on all of Linda Eaton-Stephenss claims under Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act. While we agree the district court unduly discredited parts of Eaton-Stephenss deposition testimony, even considering that evidence we conclude that Eaton-Stephens cannot show there is a genuine issue of material fact that would preclude summary judgment, and therefore, we AFFIRM the district courts judgment.
Grapevine Colleyville Independent School District employed Linda Eaton-Stephens, an African-American woman, as a counselor at Heritage Middle School from 2005 to 2014. Eaton-Stephens was the only black employee at the school. In 2013, Cheryl Harrison, a teacher at the school, was hired as the assistant principal. Upon Harrisons hiring, Eaton-Stephens informed Principal Pete Valamides that she believed Harrison was prejudiced against non-white students and faculty because Harrison had ignored her during previous encounters. Eaton-Stephens also testified in her deposition that another counselor, Marsha Fields, called her "the little black counselor" and that when she told Valamides about the incident, his response was
"fix it." According to Eaton-Stephens testimony, Valamides had intervened on behalf of other employees who raised non-race-related complaints. Eaton-Stephens testified that this incident was part of a pattern of increasing friction with Fields and a registrar, Michaelanne Tapp, which had started in 2009 or 2010.
During the 2013-2014 school year, Eaton-Stephens was granted intermittent leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) due to migraine headaches. During that school year in early 2014, there was an incident at a parents night where Fields chastised Eaton-Stephens about her use of the copier in front of the parents. Eaton-Stephens testified that following that incident Fields told her, "Dont worry. Ill get you." The next day, Becky Lamb, an assistant to the School Districts human resources executive director, Gema Padgett, came to the school and took possession of Eaton-Stephenss district-assigned laptop. Padgett and Fields were investigating an allegation that Eaton-Stephens was taking online college courses for Michael Capeda, a technical support employee of the School District. If true, the allegations against Eaton-Stephens would violate School District policies and the Texas Educators Code of Ethics. Eaton-Stephens testified she believed the report that spurred the investigation originated with Fields and Tapp as retaliation for the parents night incident. Padgett filed an affidavit stating, after finding two writing assignments under Capedas name on Eaton-Stephens laptop, that Eaton-Stephens admitted to writing and submitting one of the papers online. Eaton-Stephens testified that she explained to Padgett and Lamb that she only tutored Capeda and critiqued his papers.
At the conclusion of the investigation, Eaton-Stephens testified that Padgett and Lamb gave her two documents: a letter for administrative leave and a termination letter. Eaton-Stephens initially signed the administrative leave letter, but after further reflection and because she believed any investigation would biased, she subsequently sent a resignation email to prevent what she believed to be an inevitable termination from harming her job prospects.
Eaton-Stephens filed a lawsuit against the School District, and in her first amended complaint, she alleged claims for racial discrimination, discrimination based on a disability, and retaliation. The district court granted summary judgment for the School District on all claims...
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