Lawsuit: Sam's East fired woman because of race

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Mar. 1, 2013, 3:55pm

HOUSTON - A Harris County woman claims Sam's East Inc. fired her because she is black, recent court documents say. 

Brenda J. Menifee filed suit Jan. 15 in Harris County District Court. The retailer removed the case to the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas on Feb. 19.

Menifee worked for the defendant from May 1992 to April 2011.

She was assigned to the member services department at the time of the events that are now the focus of the case.

The suit shows the defendant first disciplined her on April 23, 2010 for a cash shortage at her register though the store's loss prevention group determined she "had not done anything improper related to the missing cash."

As punishment, Menifee was prevented from working an entire year until April 24, 2011.

She complained "she had been disciplined more harshly over the incident than the other employees because of her race" through the company's ethics hotline shortly afterwards, the suit says.

It adds Menifee's manager, who is also black, informed her co-workers that one employee would be terminated, that employee apparently being the complainant.

The original petition further explains that the defendant reviewed the plaintiff's attendance record prior to her projected return and discovered she had five unexcused absences.

Company policy dictates that more than three unexcused absences within a six-month period warrants only discipline, but the business "nevertheless" fired Menifee in April 2012, the suit says.

Menifee insists her race was a motivating factor in her termination.

A jury trial is requested.

The complainant is representing herself in the case.

Case No. 13-CV-437

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