Spring v. Walthal, Sachse & Pipes, Inc

An insurance agency, Walthall, Sachse & Pipes, Inc., brought suit against its former employee, Rosemary Spring, for opening a competing insurance agency in violation of her non-compete agreement.  Ms. Spring then brought several counterclaims against her former employer, including claims for 13 under the Texas Labor Code and Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and assault by her supervisor, Mr. Sachse.  She alleged that he pushed her head into his hip, thrust his buttocks into her pelvic area and grinded against her while laughing, and kissed her cheek and neck.  The trial court entered summary judgment against Ms. Spring on all counts and she appealed.  The appellate court held that Ms. Spring failed to plead a prima facie case for 13.  To plead 13 under a hostile work environment theory, a plaintiff must establish: (1) she is a member of a protected class, (2) she was the victim of uninvited 13, (3) the harassment was based on sex, and (4) the harassment affected a “term, condition, or privilege” of her employment.  The appellate court recognized that for the conduct to be actionable, she must show “the workplace was permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create a hostile or abusive working environment.”  The 13 must be sufficiently severe or pervasive such that to a reasonably objective third person the conduct created an “abusive working environment.”  Despite her allegations, the court looked at other similar cases where the harassment was even more severe and found that the conduct didn’t rise to “such severe or pervasive 13 that would create a hostile or abusive work environment as to affect a term, condition, or privilege of employment of a reasonable person in Spring’s position.”  However, the court did reverse the entry of summary judgment on the assault claim.  Conduct can be actionable as civil assault when it doesn’t rise to the level of discrimination under the Texas Labor Code and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  To allege assault, Ms. Spring must have shown Mr. Sachse intentionally or knowingly caused physical contact with her when he knew or should have known she would regard the contact as offensive or provocative.  Ms. Spring presented testimony of a co-worker who corroborated the contact in the elevator.  The other two incidents both involved physical contact.  Since reasonable minds could differ on whether the unsolicited physical contact was offensive or provocative, the court reversed on the assault claim.

Year 

2010

Avon Center work product 

ID 

426