HOUSTON - A recently fired member of the Houston Texans' support staff is alleging racial discrimination in a complaint filed Wednesday with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Jeff Pope, who was a security coordinator for the team, claims he was fired unjustly May 8 by now-former general manager, Brian Gaine. He was fired by the Texans on Friday.
Pope joined the Texans as in intern in 2016. In 2017, he became a security coordinator, a job he claims was not about providing security for players, but instead mostly logistics.
"It could be as little as taking guys to the (Department of Motor Vehicles) to get their license, get their car registered. I was responsible for helping with the relocation aspect of it, as well as background checks on prospects, free agent players," Pope said.
Pope said his firing was the most recent in a string of African-American front office employees he says were let go during Gaine's brief tenure.
Pope claims most of the black staffers who were fired were replaced by white males.
Pope claims Gaine told him the day he fired him that they were going in a different direction, and wanted someone with law enforcement experience -- a requirement that had never been a part of the job description or duties before.
In his claim, Pope claims Gaine created a hostile work enviroment for African-American males.
"We were called in and talked to by Mr. Gaine saying the perception of us eating breakfast together is that we're 'hanging out.' Mind you, there's groups of white men that eat breakfast in there the same time we do, never anything mentioned to them. They continued to eat breakfast in there," Pope said.
Pope's attorney, N. Lucy Chukwurah, says her client's firing is about more than a change in job description.
"This is a clear cut-case of termination on the basis of race. The fact remains (that) the overwhelming majority of people that Mr. Gaine fired were African-American. That's not a race card, that's his employment practices," Chukwurah said.
Amy Palcic, vice president of communications for the Houston Texans, told KPRC this case had nothing to do with Gaine's sudden firing and in a statement added:
"We have just been made aware of Mr. Pope’s claim. We do not comment on pending litigation. The Houston Texans do not tolerate personal or professional discrimination of any kind."
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