Worker sues E-Z Mart for racial discrimination

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Sep. 29, 2008, 9:00am

TEXARKANA, Texas -- Working as a maintenance technician for E-Z Mart in Texarkana, Texas, Tommy Jones alleges he confronted workplace hostility in the form of racial discrimination.

He states he was subjected to racial slurs that included references to "jungle people" and told he was "strong like a Silverback gorilla."

The Texarkana resident filed the original suit against E-Z Mart Stores Inc. on July 1 in the Dallas Division of the Northern District of Texas. The case was transferred to the Texarkana Division of the Eastern District of Texas on Sept. 22.

In the complaint, Jones argues that E-Z Mart discriminated against him from the first day by hiring him at $10 per hour while other maintenance technicians began at $12 per hour.

In addition, the plaintiff argues that an E-Z Mart service manager told Jones' wife, "I wish I could stay at home and have a slave work and bring the money home to me, it must be nice."

According to Jones, when he confronted the manager on his statement, the manager belittled the plaintiff to his co-workers.

E-Z Mart sent the plaintiff to Louisiana to do maintenance repairs on all its stores. During this time, the plaintiff alleges he was discriminated against, for example he was made to wait outside while the money was being removed from the vaults.

Further, Jones states that his co-workers made him the butt end of jokes and was told such things as that he was so black that no one could see him at night unless he smiled and showed his white teeth.

Plaintiff's wife complained about her husband's treatment to an E-Z Mart supervisor. According to the plaintiff's complaint, he was then called in and fired in retaliation for complaining.

He was told he was fired because he had a felony conviction on his record. However, Jones argues that he disclosed that information when he was hired and there were white felons who were not fired.

Jones argues the defendant violated Title VII by creating a hostile work environment, discharging or retaliating against him in connection to his race.

The plaintiff is seeking damages for back pay, front pay, future pecuniary losses, emotional pain and suffering, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, and other losses. Further, the plaintiff argues he is entitled to punitive damages as the defendant acted with "intentional malice or with reckless indifference to Plaintiff's protected rights."

Jones is demanding a jury trial.

Dallas attorneys W.D. Masterson, Theodore C. Anderson, and John H. Crouch IV of the law firm Kilgore and Kilgore PLLC are representing the plaintiff.

E-Z Mart denies Jones' allegations and asserts that he was terminated for legitimate non-discriminatory reasons.

Judge David Folsom will preside.

Case No: 5:08cv00164

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