A teacher filed suit against a school district under the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act, alleging that the district failed to rehire her in retaliation for filing an EEOC complaint three years earlier. The lawsuit was dismissed, and the teacher filed an appeal.

The Texas Commission on Human Rights Act prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee who files a complaint of discrimination. To prove that retaliation occurred, the employee must prove that the employer’s actions were motivated by an intent to retaliate against the employee for engaging in protected conduct.

In this case, the teacher was a magnet school coordinator. She received an email from the school’s principal stating that the school was denying admission to a student with disabilities. The teacher forwarded the email to the student’s mother, who complained to the school about the admission decision. Approximately five weeks later, the district transferred the teacher to a different school as a bookroom custodian. The teacher filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging retaliation for opposing what she perceived to be discrimination against a disabled student. The district promised to reinstate the teacher to her former position if she dropped the complaint. She did and was reinstated.

At the end of that school year, the district eliminated the teacher’s position as part of a districtwide reduction in force and, therefore, did not renew her contract. Two years later, in 2013, she applied for employment with the district again, but was not hired. She then sued, alleging retaliation for the EEOC complaint she filed three years earlier.

The court of appeals upheld the decision to dismiss the teacher’s lawsuit, finding that there was no causal connection between her complaint and the district’s decision to not hire her. The teacher was unable to produce any evidence to show that the decision-makers had any knowledge of the prior complaint. Additionally, the complaint was filed three years before the district declined to rehire her, which the court found was too long a period of time to establish a link.