Hispanic man claims termination for skipping his birthday party was ruse

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau May 26, 2010, 7:56am

MARSHALL-- An employee of the city of Huntington claims his termination for skipping his own office birthday party was really a way for the city to cut its budget.

Alleging he is a victim of racial discrimination, Perez, a Mexican-American, filed suit against the city of Huntington on May 18 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

According to the complaint, Perez was a long-time employee of the city Utility Department as a machine operator.

Perez states that at the time of the birthday party, he was with his wife attending a visitation at a local funeral home.

Three white employees also did not attend the party, but they were not terminated nor disciplined, the suit claims.

Perez argues that the termination for failing to attend his own birthday party was merely a ruse because the city needed to reduce its budget and was looking for an employee to terminate in order to reduce payroll.

"Plaintiff was selected rather than white males with less seniority, less experiences and less service with the Defendant," the complaint states.

In addition to claims of racial and national origin discrimination, Perez states that the city violated its personnel policies and administrative procedures.

According to the lawsuit, the city's administrative procedure details a progressive disciplinary process before termination.

Further, the mayor is also required to review the termination.

Perez is seeking damages for back pay, front pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney's fees, expert fees, interest, costs of court and reinstatement to his employment position with full salary and benefits.

Lufkin attorney Warren T. McCollum of Fenley & Bate is representing Perez.

Jury trial requested.

U.S. District Judge David Folsom is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:10cv00161

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