A school counselor filed suit in federal court against her former school district, arguing that she had been forced to resign from her position due to a hostile work environment created against her based on her race. The lawsuit was dismissed and the counselor appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Texas.

The facts presented showed that the counselor was an African-American woman and was the only black employee at her school. She complained to her principal that she believed a newly hired assistant principal was prejudiced against non-white students and faculty because he had ignored her during previous encounters. She also testified that a co-worker called her "the little black counselor" and that when she told the principal about the incident, his response was "fix it."

Early in the school year, there was an incident at a parents' night where the co-worker who made the previous racially inappropriate remark chastised her for using the copier in front of the parents. Following that incident, the co-worker told her, "Don't worry. I'll get you." The next day, an assistant to the school district's human resources executive director came to the school and took possession of the counselor’s district-assigned laptop. This action was taken in response to an allegation that the counselor was taking online college courses for a technical support employee of the school district. The counselor believed the allegation had been made by the co-worker as retaliation for the incident with the copier the previous night.

The investigation by the district revealed two writing assignments under another employee’s name on the counselor’s laptop. The counselor admitted to writing and submitting one of the papers online, claiming that she only tutored and critiqued the other employee’s papers. At the conclusion of the investigation, the counselor was presented with two documents: a letter for administrative leave and a termination letter. She initially signed the administrative leave letter, but after further reflection, she resigned.

During the lawsuit, the counselor argued that the district had created a hostile work environment against her based on race. The court noted that, in order to prove creation of a hostile work environment, a plaintiff must show: (1) she belongs to a protected group; (2) she was subjected to unwelcome harassment; (3) the harassment was based on race; (4) the harassment affected a term, condition, or privilege of employment; and (5) the district knew or should have known of the harassment and failed to take prompt remedial action. Poor treatment is not sufficient to show harassment based on race, even if the plaintiff believes race to be the motivating factor for the poor treatment.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the case should be dismissed, finding that the counselor had failed to show that any harassment against her had affected her employment. The only evidence to prove discrimination against her based on race was the comment made by the co-worker. This comment was found not have adversely affected her employment, because the co-worker was not a person with authority over any employment decision regarding the counselor. Additionally, there was sufficient evidence from the district to show that there had been a non-discriminatory reason for the district to end the employment relationship with the counselor due to academic fraud.