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MIRIAM M. GARZA v. RANIER L.L.C., et al.

MIRIAM M. GARZA v. RANIER L.L.C., et al.

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Published by Eric Meyer
Race, national origin discrimination; MSJ denied; employee alleged that word "ghetto" was used to describe her
Race, national origin discrimination; MSJ denied; employee alleged that word "ghetto" was used to describe her

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Categories:Types, Business/Law
Published by: Eric Meyer on Aug 06, 2013
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02/19/2015

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURTFOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TEXASAUSTIN DIVISION§MIRIAM M. GARZA§§v.§A-12-CV-475-AWA§RANIER L.L.C., et al.§ORDER 
Before the Court are: Defendants’ Opposed Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. No. 17);Plaintiff’s Response (Dkt. No. 18); and Defendants’ Reply (Dkt. No. 19). The parties have consentedto proceed in this case before the undersigned
magistrate judge.
I. Factual Background
Plaintiff Miriam M. Garza (“Garza” or “Plaintiff”) is a Mexican American female. Plaintiff’sOriginal Complaint at p. 4. Plaintiff was employed by Ranier Management, Ltd. (“Ranier”)
1
 beginning in January 2008. Ranier manages seventeen multi-family apartment communities inAustin, Texas. Affidavit of Kathy Hull at p. 1. Garza began her employment with Ranier as a property manager in charge of an individual property.
 Id.
at p. 2. Subsequently, she was promotedto an area manager position in charge of multiple properties.
 Id.
at p. 2-3. During her three-year employment with Ranier, Garza received raises and was promoted.
 Id.
at p. 3. She also receivedtwo written warnings for failure to follow company policy – one in 2008 and one in 2010.
 Id.
OnFebruary 10, 2011, Garza’s supervisors, Kathy Hull and Dawn Mooty, conducted a performancereview of Garza. Exhibit 12 to Garza Deposition. After the performance review, Mooty prepareda summary of Garza’s performance issues highlighting various areas of weakness. Affidavit of KathyHull at p. 4. Garza alleges that in June of 2011, Hull informed Garza that Garza’s management styleRanier LLC is the general partner of Ranier Management, Ltd. Factual Appendix at p. 1.
1
Case 1:12-cv-00475-AWA Document 26 Filed 07/31/13 Page 1 of 11
 
was “ghetto.” Plaintiff’s Original Complaint at p. 4. On August 8, 2011, Ranier alleges that Hulladdressed Garza regarding several issues including: her use of Facebook during office hours; thequality of apartment make-readies; open work orders for apartments; inordinate overtime by Garza’semployees; and failing to enforce company policies with her staff regarding personal calls andFacebook.
 Id.
at p. 5. Hull acknowledges in her Affidavit that “I advised Ms. Garza that this‘ghetto-ness’ would no longer be tolerated, and that she would be terminated if it continued.”
 Id.
 On August 29, 2011, Hull discovered that Garza had posted a deposit to the incorrect apartment andrefunded it to the wrong tenant, along with the deposit actually paid by that tenant.
 Id.
at p. 6. Garzawas terminated on August 29, 2011.
 Id.
Garza’s Employee Termination Report, under a sectionentitled “Prior discussion or warnings on this subject, whether oral or written:” states “08/08/2011Miriam was spoken to about being on Face book during working hours and the ‘ghetto-ness’ goingon in her office would not be tolerated anymore.” Exhibit 2 to Plaintiff’s Response.On January 19, 2012, Garza filed a Complaint with the EEOC alleging discrimination basedupon race and national origin. On March 5, 2012, Garza received a right to sue letter from theEEOC. She filed the instant suit on June 1, 2012, alleging violations of Title VII of the Civil RightsAct of 1964 (Count One) and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (Count Two).
II. Summary Judgment Standard
Summary judgment shall be rendered when the pleadings, the discovery and disclosurematerials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact andthat the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. F
ED
.
 
R.
 
C
IV
.
 
P.
 
56(a);
Celotex Corp.v. Catrett 
, 477 U.S. 317, 323–25 (1986);
Washburn v. Harvey
, 504 F.3d 505, 508 (5th Cir. 2007).A dispute regarding a material fact is “genuine” if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury couldreturn a verdict in favor of the nonmoving party.
 Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.
, 477 U.S. 242, 248(1986). When ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court is required to view all inferences2
Case 1:12-cv-00475-AWA Document 26 Filed 07/31/13 Page 2 of 11
 
drawn from the factual record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party.
 Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
, 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986);
Washburn
, 504 F.3d at 508. Further, a court“may not make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence” in ruling on a motion for summary judgment.
 Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc.
, 530 U.S. 133, 150 (2000);
 Anderson
, 477U.S. at 254–55.Once the moving party establishes that there are no factual issues, the burden shifts to thenonmoving party to produce evidence that a genuine issue of material fact exists for trial. Thenonmoving party must then “go beyond the pleadings,” and by affidavits or other competentsummary judgment evidence cite “specific facts” that show there is a genuine issue for trial.
CelotexCorp.
, 477 U.S. at 324. But a district court may not grant a motion for summary judgment merely because it is unopposed.
 Hibernia Nat’l Bank v. Administracion Cent. Sociedad Anonima
, 776 F.2d1277, 1279 (5th Cir. 1985).
III. Analysis
Defendant Ranier moves for summary judgment on Garza’s claims. Title VII of the Civil
2
Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e–2(a), makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminateagainst an employee based on the individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Intentionaldiscrimination can be proven by either direct or circumstantial evidence.
Russell v. McKinney Hosp.Venture
, 235 F.3d 219, 222 (5th Cir. 2000). The Court’s analysis, and the burdens at the summary judgment stage, differs when there is direct evidence of a discriminatory intent from when there isonly circumstantial evidence of discrimination. When the summary judgment record contains directThe analysis under Title VII and § 1981 are identical,
 Raggs v. Mississippi Power & Light 
2
Co.
, 278 F.3d 463, 468 (5th Cir. 2002), the only substantive differences between the two statutes being their respective statute of limitations and the requirement under Title VII that the employeeexhaust administrative remedies.
See Celestine v. Petroleos de Venezuella SA
, 266 F.3d 343, 351(5th Cir. 2001).3
Case 1:12-cv-00475-AWA Document 26 Filed 07/31/13 Page 3 of 11

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