South Texas College of Law in Houston, TX. Credit: RTex via Wikimedia Commons.

The South Texas College of Law—Houston did not discriminate against a black law librarian who the school dismissed in 2014, a federal judge in Texas has ruled.

Judge Lee Rosenthal of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas on Monday granted the law school summary judgment in plaintiff Joseph Kelly Plumbar’s racial discrimination and retaliation suit. Rosenthal found that Plumbar did not offer sufficient evidence that his job was given to someone outside a protected class. Moreover, the school provided evidence that Plumbar’s job was eliminated because of a larger anticipated budget shortfall. His position was one of several cuts made across the law school, with three other positions also eliminated, according to Rosenthal’s opinion.

“Even assuming that Plumbar had made a prima facie showing, South Texas has proffered a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for terminating Plumbar,” Rosenthal wrote.

Plumbar’s attorney, Houston solo practitioner Ike Okorafor, did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

Steve Alderman, the law school’s vice president of human resources and general counsel, said administrators are “pleased with the result and appreciate Judge Rosenthal’s thoughtful consideration and review.”

Plumbar sued the law school in January 2016 claiming that his dismissal as a part-time reference librarian in December 2014 was motivated by his race and was retaliation for his earlier complaint that he was paid less than white colleagues. He also alleged that three co-workers created a hostile work environment and that the law school failed to follow its own disciplinary, harassment, and performance policies. He had worked at the law school for two years.

The law school countered that Plumbar’s job was eliminated due to a budget shortfall and because the library staff determined that demand for a reference librarian was low on the days that Plumbar worked. According to Rosenthal’s opinion, Plumbar’s specific job was never filled, and his duties were divvyed up among a number of existing law library staffers. Thus, he did not meet the fourth element needed for a case of discrimination—that his job was given to someone outside a protected class, Rosenthal wrote. Plumbar argued that he met that standard because his was the only job eliminated in the law library, and that all the remaining library staffers are white. The jobs of two other white employees were spared, he alleged, but Rosenthal found those jobs were not comparable because they were full-time positions.