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Jury rejects city bus driver’s retaliation claim

On Aug. 1, a judge tossed a bus driver’s claim that she faced retaliation at work after filing a suit for sex discrimination. April Dupree worked for the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County. Her sex discrimination suit was dismissed in 2009, and she claimed that she was then unfairly written up for attendance issues that required some in-house counseling. She blamed an assistant superintendent who had been one of the targets of her discrimination suit. The defense denied that the counseling, write-up or attendance problems were a pretext. Also, Adeshile did not lose any pay or benefits, the defense noted, and her assistant superintendent was on medical leave at the time of the counseling. The defense’s motion for a directed verdict was granted on the second day of trial after plaintiff’s counsel rested.

Adeshile v. Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas, No. 2010-66501

Court: 61st District Court, Harris County

Plaintiff’s Attorney: Peter Costea, Law Office of Peter Costea, Houston

Defense Attorneys: Hao Pham Le and Jon P. Bohn, Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas, Houston

Judge tosses suit over firing for failed drug tests

An employer that fired one of its welders after he twice tested positive for cocaine won its case on summary judgment on Aug. 2. Elbert Johnson sued Nucor Vulcraft Group for race and disability discrimination, retaliation and intentional infliction of emotional distress for labeling him a drug addict. Elbert took an independent drug test, which came back negative, after failing the company’s tests. His toxicology expert said the negative test created uncertainty as to the positive tests. The defense noted that, on cross-examination, Johnson’s toxicology expert acknowledged that the company tests followed all applicable protocols, that scientifically the results were “correct”; that it would be reasonable for Nucor Vulcraft to rely on the results; and that certain chain-of-custody information missing from the negative test diminished that test’s value.

Johnson v. Nucor Corp., No. 09-0078

Court: 349th District Court, Houston County

Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Domingo A. Garcia and Javier Gonzalez, Law Office of Domingo A. Garcia, Dallas; Paul Rich, Law Office of Paul Rich, Dallas

Defense Attorneys: Jeff S. Mayes, John K. Linker and Brian Patterson, Alaniz Schraeder Linker Farris Mayes, Houston

Fired headmaster awarded $100,000

A headmaster who claimed that she was fired after making a complaint about the school’s athletic director was awarded $100,000 on Aug. 16. Keven Robertson was terminated from her job at Chirst Academy. She met with the board of trustees with complaints that the athletic director demonstrated dismissive and hostile behavior toward female staff members and female parents. Robertson was fired five days later. The school claimed that Robertson was fired for poor job performance.

Kelly v. Christ Academy, No. 7:11-cv-00072-O

Court: U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas

Plaintiffs’ Attorneys: Karen K. Fitzgerald, Kleiman Lawrence Baskind & Fitzgerald, Dallas; Rod Tanner, Tanner & Associates, Fort Worth

Defense Attorneys: Lauren Z. Farkas and Monte K. Hurst, Hermes Sargent Bates, Dallas

Woman gets $62,500 from former employer for losing current job

A sales assistant who lost her job after her employer received a letter from a former employer that she accused of gender discrimination and retaliation agreed to a $62,500 settlement on Sept. 4. Lucinda Gonzalez was an executive secretary at Vitol Inc. until she was fired. She filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which ultimately dismissed her allegations. That didn’t stop Vitol from forwarding this information to her current employer, Johnson Controls. Gonzalez claimed that Johnson Controls received and reviewed the complaint on the same day her position was eliminated. Vitol claimed that forwarding the complaint served a legitimate business purpose and denied it was the proximate cause of her termination. Vitol covered the settlement.

EEOC v. Vitol Inc. and Johnson Controls Inc., No. 4:11-cv-03506

Court: U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas

Plaintiff’s Attorney: Connie K. Wilhite, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Houston

Defense Attorneys: Gregory C. Dillard, Douglas E. Hamel and Martin C. Luff, Vinson & Elkins, Houston; Richard F. Callaway, Callaway & Associates, Houston; Leonard V. Feigel and Kevin E. Hyde, Foley & Lardner, Jacksonville

The verdicts and settlements above are reported and written by Verdict Search, a Texas Lawyer affiliate.

Previous VerdictSearch reports:

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