Employment discrimination claims hit Texas governmental entities

Age discrimination. Race discrimination. Sex discrimination. Former employees have filed lawsuits against Texas businesses in recent years, alleging that they’ve been unlawfully subjected to various types of employment discrimination based on age, race, gender, religion, pregnancy and more.

Texas governmental entities are facing employment discrimination allegations, too.

Age discrimination allegations

Near the southernmost tip of Texas sits the town of Mercedes, where its former fire chief is suing the city, claiming that he was discriminated against because of his age and that he was wrongfully terminated.

Tommy Ureste was dismissed as chief of the Mercedes Fire Department in January of last year after city officials claimed he violated a zero-tolerance policy. A local news report stated that it’s unclear what Ureste did and which policy he allegedly violated.

He was 41 at the time he was fired. According to federal law, employees age 40 and above are protected from age discrimination.

City officials deny any wrongdoing.

Race discrimination allegations

More than 400 miles north, the former principal of Robinson High School and his wife, a former substitute teacher, allege they were subjected to “bigotry, racism and discrimination.”

Lamar Collins and Rose Collins said in their lawsuit against the Robinson Independent School District that together they were half of the Black employees at the school.

The suit says Lamar Collins was hired in the fall of 2018, but that when the principal’s “white secretary complained about Ms. Collins to the white superintendent and white deputy superintendent,” the school district allegedly reacted with racism and discrimination.

Rose Collins was allegedly banned from the high school “without explanation” and that Lamar Collins was later told, again without explanation, that his contract wouldn’t be renewed.

According to the lawsuit, he was later reassigned and his pay was decreased by nearly $20,000.

Collins later resigned.

Gender discrimination allegations

If you drive about 175 miles southwest of Robinson, you’ll arrive in San Antonio’s Harlandale Independent School District. A police officer with the school district claims she was denied a promotion because she’s a mother and because she declined repeated invitations from the chief to socialize.

Officer Linda James claims Harlandale ISD Police Chief Michael Ramirez repeatedly asked her to hang out with him at his property.

The suit also claims that when she spoke to Ramirez about a promotion, he told her that she’s a mother “who had things to do with her children.”

He then allegedly failed to respond to her follow-up email inquiry about the promotion.

A spokesperson for the school district said federal officials ”investigated the employee’s allegations of discrimination and retaliation” and was unable to determine that there were “violations of federal civil rights laws.”

While it’s impossible to know from news media accounts whether the claims in the three lawsuits are accurate, we do know that for many government entities, the costs of employment litigation and settlement negotiations can be minimized by legal representation experienced in this area of law.