A Texas appeals court ruled in favor of Texas Southern University this week in a case brought by an associate professor of justice studies, Guatam Nayer, who said that the institution discriminated and retaliated against him. A trial court previously denied the university summary judgment on Nayer’s claims, with the university arguing then that Nayer hadn’t exhausted administrative remedies and that Texas’s strong sovereign immunity doctrine applied.
The three-judge appeals panel reversed the trial’s court’s decision, arguing in an opinion authored by Justice Sara Beth Landau that Nayer had not sufficiently shown that his claims were tied to his race, national origin or opposition to discrimination. Landau also wrote that the university actions Nayer described weren’t “severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile or abusive working environment.”
Nayer, who is Indian, said that he was discriminated against as someone who was not African American at Texas Southern, a historically Black university. He said a colleague discriminated against him in emails, including by accusing Nayer of using “Indian primeval tactics of damage and control against more qualified colleagues in academe.” Nayer also said colleagues harassed him by falsely accusing him of calling Black students racist names. The Texas Workforce Commission issued Nayer a right-to-sue letter in 2019, and he filed his lawsuit later that year.
Nayer faced votes of no confidence as department chair and graduate program director and said he was denied a graduate assistant he requested. The university said, however, that the graduate student had filed a complaint against Nayer. Nayer admitted he once was reprimanded for calling a student’s presentation “fucking idiotic.” Neither Nayer nor the university immediately responded to a request for comment.