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Martinez v. Texas Workforce Commission

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

December 30, 2014

RODOLFO MARTINEZ, Plaintiff - Appellant
v.
TEXAS WORKFORCE COMMISSION - CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION, Defendant - Appellee

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas.

RODOLFO MARTINEZ, Plaintiff - Appellant, Pro se, Georgetown, TX.

For TEXAS WORKFORCE COMMISSION - CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION, Defendant - Appellee: Jason Thaddeus Contreras, Esq., Assistant Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General for the State of Texas, Austin, TX.

Before KING, JOLLY, and HAYNES, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 686

PER CURIAM

Rodolfo Martinez appeals the district court's order granting summary judgment in favor of the Texas Workforce Commission-Civil Rights Division (" TWC" ) on Martinez's claims of national origin discrimination under Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a).[1] Martinez, a Mexican-

Page 687

American, argues that the TWC discriminated against him when it appointed Janet Quesnel, a white woman, to a management position over him in May 2011. The TWC counters that it promoted Quesnel because she was more qualified and performed better during the interview process than Martinez. A magistrate judge issued a Report and Recommendation (" R& R" ) recommending that the district court grant summary judgment in favor of the TWC because Martinez failed to show that the TWC's reasons for promoting Martinez were a pretext for unlawful discrimination; the district court agreed. For the following reasons, we agree with the district court and AFFIRM the grant of summary judgment.

I.

We review the district court's grant of summary judgment de novo and apply the same standard as the district court. Day v. Wells Fargo Bank Nat'l Ass'n, 768 F.3d 435, 435 (5th Cir. 2014). The district court is entitled to grant summary judgment only " if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). At the summary judgment stage, we " review the facts in the light most favorable to the non-movant." Price v. Fed. Express Corp., 283 F.3d 715, 719 (5th Cir. 2002).

As Martinez presents a Title VII claim based on circumstantial evidence, we review the case in accordance with the traditional burden-shifting framework for such claims. See Meinecke v. H& R Block of Houston, 66 F.3d 77, 83 (5th Cir. 1995) (citing McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973)). The plaintiff must first present a prima facie case of discrimination, and if the plaintiff does so, the defendant must respond by offering a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason behind its decision. Id. If the defendant satisfies its burden, the burden shifts back to the plaintiff to demonstrate that the defendant's proffered reason is a pretext for discrimination. Id.

II.

The parties do not dispute that Martinez made out a prima facie case of national origin discrimination based on a failure to promote theory. See Haynes v. Pennzoil Co., 207 F.3d 296, 300 (5th Cir. 2000) (identifying the prima facie elements of a failure to promote claim). The TWC then proffered a non-discriminatory reason for failing to promote Martinez--Quesnel was more qualified than Martinez. Specifically, the TWC pointed to Quesnel's extensive experience within the TWC and in state government--she had over thirty years of state government experience, she had worked for the TWC continuously for over seventeen years, and she was already employed in a managerial capacity at the time of her promotion. ...


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