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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Donald Dias began working for Goodman Manufacturing Company LP (Goodman) as a computer analyst in 1996. He learned of the job opening from his mother Shirley Dias, who was employed by Quietflex Manufacturing Co. LP. Quietflex was formerly a department of Goodman until it became a separate entity in 1993. In 1998, Goodman promoted Donald to the job of Network Systems Manager. Quietflex terminated Shirley on April 4, 2003. Within a day of his mother’s termination, Donald spoke with his supervisor Ed Lilley, and with human resources representative Wanda Ford about her re-employment. Donald asked if there was anything he could do to help his mother and both Lilley and Ford told Donald there was not. According to Donald, Lilley told him he was better off being quiet and not interfering, and that Donald could not help her if he was unemployed. Donald further testified that Ford told him Donald would be best by not taking it any farther and Donald should go back and basically do his job. On April 29, 2003, Shirley sent a demand letter to Quietflex asserting an age discrimination claim. She filed a charge of age discrimination against Quietflex with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on May 20, 2003. On or about the same day, Goodman’s chief information officer, Terry Smith, reported concerns that Donald and Charles Espinoza, another employee, were accessing other employees’ e-mail mailboxes without authorization. On June 17, 2003, Donald verbally acknowledged that on May 13, 2003, he had accessed the mailboxes of Lilley and Smith. At his employer’s request, Donald wrote a statement in which he explained, “I had compose[d] an email which I sent and quickly regretted. I chose to delete the message prior to it being read versus recalling it.” Goodman immediately fired Donald. On March 22, 2004, Donald filed suit against Goodman, Quietflex and Goodman Holding Company (GHC) for retaliatory discharge under Texas Commission on Human Rights Act �21.055. Donald claimed that Goodman discharged him in retaliation for his mother’s claim against Quietflex and because Goodman and the other defendants perceived Donald was assisting his mother in prosecuting her claims or would testify on her behalf. The defendants moved for traditional and no-evidence summary judgment on several grounds. The trial court granted the companies’ motion for summary judgment without stating the grounds for its ruling. Donald appealed. HOLDING:Affirmed. In an action arising under Texas Commission on Human Rights Act �21.055, the plaintiff must first make a prima facie showing that he engaged in a protected activity, an adverse employment action occurred and a causal link existed between the protected activity and the adverse action. Under �21.055, protected activities consist of opposing a discriminatory practice; making or filing a charge; filing a complaint; or testifying, assisting or participating in any manner in an investigation, proceeding or hearing. Once a plaintiff makes a prima facie case, the burden then shifts to the defendant to demonstrate a legitimate nondiscriminatory purpose for the adverse employment action. The theory on which Donald relies most heavily, the court stated, is that of third-party retaliation. In other words, Donald argued that he was terminated because his mother engaged in the protected activity of filing an age discrimination complaint. Because Donald bases his retaliation claim on activities that are not protected by �21.055 and on legal theories that are not cognizable under Texas law, the court found that Goodman, Quietflex and GHC successfully established that Donald did not make a prima facie case of discrimination. In the absence of a prima facie case, the court held that the burden did not shift to Goodman and the other parties to demonstrate a legitimate nondiscriminatory purpose for Donald’ termination. Thus, the court found that the trial court correctly granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants. OPINION:Guzman, J.; Anderson, Hudson and Guzman, J.J.

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