Annie Cosby May 16, 2014, 11:33am

Three Harris County woman are suing over claims their employment was terminated in retaliation for claims of gender discrimination.

Wanda Federick, Alicia Orellana and Sharon Powell filed a lawsuit May 2 in the Houston County District Court against Education Affiliates Inc., doing business as Fortis College, citing gender discrimination.

According to the complaint, Federick and Orellana were repeatedly passed over for promotions within the admissions department for employees with fewer qualifications. Federick says she was referred to as "that old lady" by a superior before being fired Nov. 29, 2012, after a superior learned of her intention to go to the EEOC.

Orellana's employment was terminated that same day. Powell says she filed sexual harassment charges Nov. 12, 2011, against a superior who made it clear he intended to retaliate. The lawsuit states Powell was also terminated Nov. 29, 2012.

According to the complaint, the reason given for the terminations was "conflict of interest" because the plaintiffs founded a company called Premier Career Consulting outside of Fortis and Powell launched Tri-Wisdom Inc. The plaintiffs say Premier had not conducted business due to a lack of funds and was not a competitor to Fortis College.

Further evidence of the retaliatory discharge is the fact that another Fortis employee, an underqualified male promoted above the plaintiffs, was also an executive of Tri-Wisdom, yet his Fortis employment was not terminated.

The plaintiffs are seeking damages, back pay, front pay and attorney's fees. They are being represented in the case by attorney Mark G. Lazarz of Shellist Lazarz Slobin.

Houston County District Court Case No. 14-cv-01212


This is a report on a civil lawsuit filed in the Houston County District Court. The details in this report come from an original complaint filed by a plaintiff. Please note, a complaint represents an accusation by a private individual, not the government. It is not an indication of guilt, and it only represents one side of the story.

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