TXDOT employee who was terminated after taking scrap metal loses appeal of dismissal of case

By Carrie Salls | Dec 31, 2018

BEAUMONT – The Court of Appeals for the 9th District of Texas at Beaumont upheld an 88th District Court of Tyler County order dismissing a woman’s lawsuit against the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT), her former employer, and her supervisor Henry Sawyer, according to a Dec. 20 Appeals Court opinion.

The Appeals Court said Lisa Granger filed a sex-based discrimination complaint against TXDOT and Sawyer after they allegedly fired her in October 2010 “because she had taken metal pipe, scrap metal and other material from TXDOT’s Woodville yard.”

In his ruling upholding the dismissal of Granger’s lawsuit, Judge Hollis Horton agreed that “Granger failed to meet her burden of proof to show that fact issues existed justifying a trial on her claims.”

The opinion said Granger had told another TXDOT employee that she took the items in question from the yard, and Granger herself admitted that she took the items when TXDOT and Sawyer interviewed her about the incident. However, Granger claimed that she had been wrongfully terminated because other male co-workers had done the same thing and had kept their jobs.

Justice Hollis Horton  

“About four months after Granger was fired, she filed an administrative proceeding with the Texas Workforce Commission alleging that TXDOT had violated the Texas Labor Code by discharging her from her job based on her sex,” the Appeals Court opinion said.

In addition to the administrative proceeding, the Appeals Court said Granger filed a lawsuit against TXDOT and the supervisor, claiming that the defendants violated her rights under the Texas Constitution and Texas law because she had been allegedly fired based on her “sex, race, color, creed or national origin.”

Granger sought an award of monetary damages and asked the lower court to order TXDOT to rehire her and prohibit the defendants from further gender-based discrimination against her.

“In response to Granger’s claims that fact issues exist on whether she was fired on the basis of her sex, TXDOT and Sawyer argued that Granger provided the trial court with no evidence supporting her claim,” the Appeals Court opinion said. “On appeal, TXDOT and Sawyer conclude that TXDOT’s decision to terminate Granger resulted from Granger’s action violating TXDOT’s written policies prohibiting employees from taking state property for personal use.”

The court said TXDOT and Sawyer also argued that the male employees who Granger claimed were not fired for the same offense as she committed “did not hold a position or engage in conduct similar to hers.”

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