Nigerian pharmacists sue UTMB over alleged discrimination

By John Suayan, Galveston Bureau | Oct 30, 2008

GALVESTON – Four pharmacists at the University of Texas Medical Branch say they believe the 120-year-old medical institution is discriminating against them because of their nationalities.

Ime Gloria Enwere, Ikedichi I. Enwere, Matthew O. Okoro, and Kevin J. Ononugbo allege their superiors used their Nigerian origins as a reason to overlook them for raises, compensation and promotion, despite each individual's education and professional work histories.

The pharmacists filed a lawsuit against UTMB on Oct. 27 in Galveston County District Court.

"Plaintiffs complain with respect to their discrimination on the basis of their national origin; plaintiffs contend that their national origin played a factor in their treatment by their employer," the suit says, adding the plaintiffs are American citizens. "In fact, defendant ignored its policy with regards to raises and compensation as related to plaintiffs, but honored the policy with others of different national origins."

The complaint said the Pharmacy Department gave the plaintiffs 1 percent raises while their colleagues received twp percent raises.

"Nothing in the plaintiffs' work experience, actual performance, and responsibilities justifies the denial of the comparable raises," the suit says. "No other group or nationality experienced the cross-the-board denial of the wage increase save Nigerian pharmacists."

The original petition mentions the plaintiffs went through the proper grievance process prior to suing UTMB. Retaliation befell two of the complainants, the suit argues.

Okoro claims he was dismissed from his position when word of their protests reached management.

Court papers show that Ononugbo was laid off, not terminated.

The plaintiffs, represented by Galveston attorney Anthony P. Griffin, seek damages including but not limited to:

  • A declaratory judgment stating that the defendant has engaged in discriminatory conduct and that defendant has violated Texas law against national origin discrimination;

  • Reinstatement in employment for laid off employees;

  • Back wages and benefits; and

  • Compensatory damages incurred in the past, present, and future.

    The case has been assigned to 10th District Court Judge David Garner.

    Case No. 08CV1075

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