Women and Justice: Court: Court of Appeals of Texas – Dallas Division

Domestic Case Law

Menefee v. McCaw Court of Appeals of Texas – Dallas Division (2003)

Gender discrimination

Sherri Menefee filed an employment sex discrimination and retaliation case against her employer, McCaw Cellular.  Sherri was hired as the manager of the IT department for the company’s southwestern region.  She alleged that her boss discriminated against her and that she was subjected to a less favorable environment based on her sex and was terminated shortly after complaining about the discrimination.  Under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act (Texas Labor Code § 21.051(1)), an employer commits an unlawful employment practice if, because of sex, the employer discriminates in any manner against an individual in connection with compensation or the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.  The Act is modeled after the federal Title VII and therefore Texas courts may look not only to cases involving the state statute but also to cases interpreting the analogous federal provisions.  In discrimination cases based upon circumstantial evidence, the plaintiff must first establish a prima facie case by showing: (1) she was a member of the protected class, (2) she was qualified for the position she held, (3) she was discharged or suffered an adverse employment action, and (4) she was replaced with a person who is not a member of the protected class or she was otherwise treated differently from persons outside the protected class.  Once the plaintiff makes this “minimal” showing, the burden of production shifts to the employer to produce evidence that the plaintiff was terminated for a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason.  Then the plaintiff must establish that the legitimate reason was a “pretext” by showing that a discriminatory motive move likely motivated the employer’s decision, such as through evidence of disparate treatment or that the employer’s explanation is unworthy of credence.  In this case, Sherri established a prima facie case, and McCaw met its burden by producing evidence that Sherri was fired because she was not a “good fit” for her team.  Sherri sufficiently evidenced that this reason for her termination was a pretext because the reason she could not create a cohesive team was due to the discriminatory conduct and disruptive behavior of her boss and the failure of her supervisors to take action when she complained; moreover, she presented evidence that she had been told she was doing a good job.  Thus, Sherri sufficiently raised a factual issue to survive summary judgment.