SHSU's lawyers reply to the latest response in discrimination case
Published: Thursday, September 26, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 26, 2013 01:09
Sam Houston State University filed a tersely worded reply brief Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District in response to an African American employee’s lawyers response to SHSU’s motion for summary judgment, in a discrimination case filed in January 2012.
Angel Lamb, an employee working in the Human Resources department, filed a lawsuit against SHSU based on racial discrimination and retaliation, and SHSU’s lawyers recently filed a motion for summary judgment, which means that SHSU believes Lamb’s lawyer did not present enough evidence to move the trial to a jury.
Sam Houston’s lawyer Yvonne D. Bennett, assistant attorney general, claims that Lamb provided evidence supporting her claims but that it wasn’t definitive, according to the court document.
“Although she has submitted voluminous evidentiary material, she does not identify the specific portions of such evidence (if any) that support her claims and more importantly, how the purported evidence supports her claims,” Bennett said in the court document.
Lamb’s response to the motion of summary judgment consisted of more than 80 pages of strongly worded incidents that had occurred to Lamb and two of her colleagues who are also African American.
Yvonne Bennett also states in the reply brief that Lamb never, “put on the record or otherwise identified any evidence that indicates that any alleged disparate treatment was based upon her race or retaliation.”
In Lamb’s response, lawyer Jo Miller stated that David White, Interim Director of Human Resources and Cynthia Bennett, interim human resources associate director, “wasted no time taking aim at the three African American employees in the department.”
Miller also wrote that after White took over the Human Resources department that he requested a meeting with Dr. Dean Lewis to “discuss alternatives” with Lamb’s position. This is supported with an email, supplied in the evidence.
Yvonne Bennett replied in court documents that to withstand a summary judgment, a plaintiff must show that there is a genuine issue for trial by presenting evidence of specific facts.
“Lamb is completely misguided in her argument that it is SHSU’s burden to create issues of fact by ‘asking the right questions,’” court documents stated. “It is well-established that the burden of proof in Title VII discrimination cases remains with the Plaintiff.”
Miller stated in the response that this is a case where summary judgment should not have been brought.
“Defendant’ summary judgment motion relies on a convoluted claim that Lamb didn’t raise questions of fact in her deposition —well, Defendant never asked the right questions,” the document stated.
Lamb claimed that White would bring people and introduce them to everyone but her and her fellow African American employees and several other slights designed to ostracize them.
Contrary to Lamb’s response Yvonne Bennett stated that Lamb’s poor evaluations, increased workload and supervision and failure to receive daily greeting from management are not adverse employment options.
Lamb also claims that she was retaliated against after filing two claims of racial discrimination. In this process President Dana Gibson, Ph.D., who was then Vice President of Financial and Operations, was sent her complaints but claims to have never received them, according to court documents. The response then claims that Lamb was given an immediate disciplinary write up within a day that her grievance was filed.
In SHSU’s reply Yvonne Bennett stated that Lamb did not provide any evidence that refutes Gibson’s claim.
Although Miller declined to comment on the specifics of the case she did say what she hopes the overall outcome will be.
“We are looking to have SHSU recognize its diversity problems and challenges, and make positive steps toward correcting them,” Miller said. “Until SHSU admits that there are diversity issues at the university, no truly positive solutions will be forthcoming.”
Yvonne Bennett, Gibson and Miller declined to comment.
Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt, United States district judge, is currently considering the summary judgment.