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Brown v. Katy Independent School District, 2015 WL 67935 (S.D. Tex. 2016).

Facts: Over the course of the 2012-2013 school year, Cynthia Brown, a school LVN (Licensed Vocational Nurse) for Katy ISD, received a number of unannounced audits that uncovered performance deficiencies. The LVN received a “counseling report” and was placed on an intervention plan. Follow-up audits revealed continued deficiencies in the woman’s work performance, leading to a poor performance evaluation. Meanwhile, Brown claims she attended an in-service about gang violence in which gang members portrayed in a video clip used the N-word. Brown complained that the speaker had used the derogatory term, but upon investigation, it was revealed that he had not. After the latest performance evaluation which rated her as below expectations, Brown was terminated. Brown filed suit against the District alleging race discrimination, hostile work environment, harassment, and retaliation, breach of contract, and violations of her Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

Holding: The trial court dismissed the suit, finding no issue worthy of trial. The breach of contract claim failed because Brown was not employed under a District contract. Similarly, with respect to the Fourteenth Amendment due process claim, she had to establish a contractual right to continued employment with the District, but she failed to do so. In response to the discrimination claims, the District proved its legitimate, non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory reasons for its employment decisions – documented work performance problems. In response, Brown offered nothing more than her unsubstantiated, subjective beliefs that the employment action taken against her was based upon discrimination and retaliation. The trial court held that a plaintiff must produce more evidence to sustain claims of discrimination and retaliation. Thus, the trial court held that Brown had produced insufficient evidence to pursue her lawsuit. The trial court rendered judgment in favor of the District.

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