Alamo Heights Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Clark, No. 04-14-00746-CV (Tex. App. – San Antonio 2015).
Facts: A terminated P.E. teacher brought suit against the Alamo Heights Independent School District, claiming that her termination amounted to gender discrimination and retaliation. The teacher alleged that shortly after she was hired, a female co-worker began sexually harassing her by repeatedly making remarks about her body, among other things. The teacher reported her co-worker’s conduct to her supervisor and claimed that the supervisor did nothing to stop the harassment. The teacher claimed that, instead, the supervisor also started making inappropriate sexual remarks to her. The lawsuit also claimed that the sexual harassment continued and the teacher reported the allegations to the school principal. According to the teacher, the principal did not follow district policy in handling her sexual harassment complaint. The teacher complained to the athletic director and the principal again twice when the harassment did not subside and eventually filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). According to the suit, the teacher was told that there would be “consequences” for her complaint and, within days, she claims to have been placed on an intervention plan. The teacher went on leave for anxiety and filed a grievance against her co-worker. She was later placed on leave without pay and ultimately terminated. The district filed a motion requesting dismissal of the suit and the trial court denied the motion. The school district appealed.
Ruling: The court of appeals upheld the ruling in favor of the teacher. Contrary to the school district’s contentions, she had presented sufficient evidence of sexual harassment, a hostile work environment, and retaliation. The teacher presented sufficient evidence of ongoing sexual harassment over a two-year period and the failure of district officials to address the teacher’s complaints. Evidence also supported the teacher’s retaliation claim. The record showed that the teacher never had received a negative evaluation until after she filed her charge of discrimination. Nevertheless, just days after receiving the notice of the charge, the district placed the teacher on an intervention plan. The evidence also suggested that the district failed to follow its sexual harassment and termination policies with respect to the teacher. Based on the evidence presented, the teacher was allowed to proceed on her sexual harassment and retaliation claims.