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1/30/2014

Gordon & Rees Dallas Team Secures “Early” Summary Judgment in Federal Court Discrimination Case

Gordon & Rees Dallas managing partner Bob Bragalone and senior counsel Margaret Mead convinced a plaintiff to voluntarily dismiss with prejudice claims against a former employer alleging Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981 racial harassment, discriminatory discharge, and retaliation, with no money paid in settlement.  This is the second such victory for the Dallas team in as many months.   

The plaintiff worked as an assistant manager for client Maintenance Engineers in Wichita Falls, Texas.  The plaintiff ran into conflicts with one co-worker, and, most critically, fell out of favor with the client's biggest customer, the U.S. government, due to his subpar work performance.  When the company received an unprecedented poor evaluation from the government singling out the plaintiff as uncooperative, the company terminated his employment. The plaintiff filed suit in federal court. 

During the plaintiff’s deposition, Bragalone’s questioning forced him to admit his conflicts at work and the dissatisfaction of the defendant’s sole customer in Wichita Falls.  The testimony was cited extensively in the motion for summary judgment, which demonstrated that the plaintiff could not meet the "severe and pervasive conduct" standard to support his claim.  The motion further established that the plaintiff failed to adduce evidence to support a prima facie case of discriminatory discharge or retaliation and he did not have any evidence that the reason offered for his discharge – poor performance – was a pretext for discrimination. 

The parties attended the court-ordered mediation before the court ruled on the client's summary judgment motion.  Bragalone secured authority from the client to stand firm with a zero-offer position.  Following the team's presentation, and faced with dismissal and possible sanctions for filing the lawsuit, the plaintiff withdrew his monetary demands and agreed to voluntarily dismiss his lawsuit with prejudice.  It was an “early” summary judgment granted not by the court, but by the plaintiff himself.    

Robert A. Bragalone



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