Fifth Circuit Reverses Summary Judgment for an Employer
12/06/2015 // Dallas, Texas, United States // Attorney Keith Clouse // Keith Clouse // (press release)
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently reversed summary judgment for an employer in a retaliation case. Porter v. Houma Terrebonne Housing Auth. Bd. of Comm’rs, No. 14-31090 (5th Cir. Nov. 17, 2015), available at http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/14/14-31090-CV0.pdf.
An employee informally complained that the employer’s executive director sexually harassed her. Later, she offered her resignation. Her superiors urged her to rescind her resignation based on her outstanding work. Before finishing her employment, the employee testified against the executive director in another employee’s internal grievance hearing, claiming sexual harassment. She then attempted to rescind her resignation, but the executive director rejected her rescission. The employee sued, asserting federal and state law claims for retaliatory discharge and sexual harassment/hostile work environment. The district court granted the employer’s motion for summary judgment.
On appeal, the Court analyzed whether an employer’s refusal to accept a rescission of resignation could be considered an adverse employment action. The Court concluded that it can sometimes constitute an adverse employment action. Here, because the employee presented substantial evidence regarding whether the employer would have taken the action “but for” her protected activity in testifying against the executive director, the Court reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment.
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