(press release: cdklawyers)
The Dallas Court of Appeals recently upheld summary judgment for an employer accused of sexually harassing two employees and retaliating against them. Gumpert v. ABF Freight Sys., Inc., __ S.W.3d __ (Tex. App.—Dallas May 20, 2009, no pet. h.), available at http://www.5thcoa.courts.state.tx.us/cgi-bin/as_web.exe?c05topin.ask+D+150185.
Two male employees sued their former employer for sex discrimination and retaliation and sued certain former male co-workers for libel. The plaintiffs alleged that their former co-workers posted flyers containing defamatory and sexually-oriented statements about them and that their employer retaliated against them for reporting this conduct. The trial court granted summary judgment for the defendants, and the plaintiffs appealed.
The plaintiffs first argued that the conduct was discriminatory because it was directed only at males. The Court rejected this argument because a plaintiff must show that the harassment was directed at the victim because of the victim’s gender, not merely that the harassment happened to be directed only at members of one gender.
The plaintiffs’ retaliation claims likewise failed; one plaintiff could not show that an adverse action occurred and the other plaintiff could not establish a causal link between his harassment complaints and the company’s alleged failure to act. For these reasons, the Court affirmed summary judgment for the employer. The Court also affirmed summary judgment for the individual defendants on the libel claims because the flyers were satirical in nature and could not reasonably be understood as describing actual facts.
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