Former Texans general manager Brian Gaine has been accused of discriminating against African-Americans in a complaint that was recently filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The man who filed the complaint was Jeff Pope, a former security coordinator for the Texans who was let go by the team on May 8. In the 4,500-word complaint, Pope alleges that Gaine only got rid of him because he was a minority.
“It appeared, and I believe, that he was targeting all minorities in leadership positions and was set to replace them with non-African-Americans. Which he did,” Pope wrote in the complaint, which was obtained by USA Today. “In short, every African American in the building understood that not too many of us could congregate or be seen interacting with each other even during lunch because it did not look good to the powers that be.”
Although the Texans haven’t commented on the specifics of the case, the team did release a statement on Thursday saying they don’t tolerate discrimination.
“We have just been made aware of Mr. Pope’s claim,” the Texans said, via the Houston Chronicle. “We do not comment on pending litigation. The Houston Texans do not tolerate personal or professional discrimination of any kind.”
Texans spokeswoman Amy Palcic also told the Chronicle that Pope’s claim had nothing to do with Gaine’s firing. The former Texans general managerafter just 18 months on the job.
“This claim by Mr. Pope was not a factor in the recent decision to relieve Brian Gaine from his job as general manager,” Texans spokeswoman Amy Palcic said.
Of course, Pope’s legal team feels otherwise. Pope’s lawyer, N. Lucy Chukwurah, believes that her client’s pending complaint may have played a part in Gaine’s firing.
“I was going to handle this the way I handle most of my claims: quietly,” N. Lucy Chukwurah said, via the Chronicle. “When the Texans terminated Mr. Gaine, that caught my attention. They terminated him a few days after they spoke with their counsel. I found that to be unusual.”
Chukwurah also thought it was odd that Pope was apparently offered a severance package, even though he had been fired.
“My client was terminated we are alleging it was clearly on the basis of race by Mr. Gaine, who was recently terminated by the Texans,” Chukwurah said. “My client was offered a severance. He came to me about negotiating and asked if he should sign it. I found there was more there. I wondered why he was being offered a severance. We discussed what his options were and filed the EEOC discrimination complaint.”
According to the complaint, the team told Pope that he was being fired due to his lack of background in law enforcement, but Pope feels the decision had to do with the color of his skin, which is why he filed the complaint. On the other hand, multiple team sources told the Chronicle that Pope “was fired for job performance issues, including falsifying payroll and overtime records.”
The next step in this case belongs to the EEOC, which will now investigate “whether there is reasonable cause to believe discrimination occurred.” If the EEOC doesn’t find that there was any discrimination, Pope would then be allowed to file a lawsuit against the team in federal court.