Sex complaint led to woman's termination from Wal-Mart automotive department, lawsuit says

John Suayan Apr. 25, 2016, 8:54am


A woman who used to work in the automotive section of a Wal-Mart in Longview alleges in a lawsuit filed in Tyler federal court that the retailer fired her for complaining about sex discrimination.

Melanie K. Fritz’s suit, which was filed April 19, explains that Fritz was mistreated by her department manager prior to her termination on Aug. 4, 2015.

Wal-Mart employed Fritz for nearly a decade and spent the past five years in the aforementioned section, according to court papers. About a month before the subject incident, they state, the department received a new manager named James Evan.

Fritz further shows that Evan told her that “no woman was going to be working in the shop." The same remark was allegedly told to another one of the store’s department managers.

Fritz subsequently addressed the comment in an email to the store’s general manager, as well as spoke to its assistant managers. The suit says that she was dismissed for gross misconduct in connection to a “lube audit” performed on July 28, 2015.

Per Fritz, she then filed for unemployment with the Texas Workforce Commission only to learn that Wal-Mart fired her for theft.

“This was a complete fabrication on the part of the defendant(s),” the original petition says.

“Whether the pretext for the plaintiff’s termination was the incomplete lube audit or the alleged theft, the real reason for the plaintiff’s termination was because Evan did not want a woman to have any duties in the automotive department, particularly the automotive shop.”

The suit adds that a former colleague divulged to her that Evan told him that she “was too old to be out in the shop,” and that she “needed to be home tending to babies.”

“The plaintiff, at forty-four, was the oldest person working in the automotive department, where the typical age of the employees was between eighteen and twenty-nine,” it says.

Consequently, Fritz seeks unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.

She is represented by attorneys Joseph A. Barbknecht of The Barbknecht Firm, P.C. in Plano and David B. Urteago of Urteago, P.C. in Dallas.

Tyler Division of the Eastern District of Texas Case No. 2:16-CV-0361

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