The San Antonio Court of Appeals recently ruled in a workplace retaliation matter. Martinez v. Wilson County, No. 04-09-00233-CV (Tex. App.—San Antonio January 13, 2010, no pet. h.), available at http://www.4thcoa.courts.state.tx.us/opinions/htmlopinion.asp?OpinionId=22680.
The plaintiff alleged she had been wrongfully terminated for complaining about a gender-based hostile work environment. Her employer alleged that the plaintiff’s employment had been terminated for misconduct. The trial court granted summary judgment for the employer.
To prove a retaliation claim, a plaintiff must show: (1) she engaged in a protected activity; (2) an adverse action occurred; and (3) a causal connection exists between the plaintiff’s participation in a protected activity and the adverse employment action. Protected activities include: (1) opposing a discriminatory practice; (2) making or filing a charge of discrimination; (3) filing a complaint; or (4) testifying, assisting or participating in any manner in an investigation, proceeding or hearing. Here, the plaintiff complained of a hostile work environment, but she did not suggest that her concerns were gender-related. Because her complaints did not put her employer on notice that she had gender-related concerns and because the content of her complaints would not support an inference that she was engaging in a protected activity, the plaintiff could not show that she engaged in a protected activity. Thus, summary judgment was appropriate.
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