Disabled veteran files lawsuit against Pearland and Port of Houston

Lawsuit alleges unfair hiring and firing practices, City of Pearland disputes claim

A disabled veteran who served in both the Army and Navy and was injured in a 2007 training exercise, has filed lawsuits against the City of Pearland and the Port of Houston.

Robert Jones, 38, a father of eight, is a paramedic by trade.

He told KPRC 2 Investigates Friday that both government entities have discriminated against him.

Jones was employed by the Port of Houston fire department for more than six years but had a lot of trouble along the way.

“I was belittled and berated for being a disabled veteran,” Jones said.

Jones’s lawyer said Friday that because his injuries were not readily apparent to the naked eye, some of his colleagues did not take his conditions seriously.

“He has permanent scars and he has permanent changes to his body. He is also diagnosed with a PTSD-type syndrome,” attorney Eric Roberson said.

Jones said that a group of colleagues targeted him with ridicule, and he reported them both internally and to the EEOC.

Then he was fired, Jones claims.

This summer he filed a lawsuit against the Port of Houston, based on wrongful termination.

“So, I was literally trying to jump to ship. I was in a bad environment, I was trying to get away from it,” Jones said.

Jones thought he had found such an opportunity with the City of Pearland’s fire department.

But his attorney said Friday, Jones was not given a fair shot at the job.

“We’re alleging they refused to give him full consideration,” Roberson said.

Roberson details in the lawsuit that an assistant chief allegedly torpedoed his well-qualified client’s chances at the job after communicating with one of Jones’ former colleagues. Roberson said that Jones explicitly marked a box on his job application not to contact his former employer.

Jones seeks unspecified financial compensation in each lawsuit.

The Port of Houston declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

The City of Pearland issued the following statement, by way of Joshua Lee, Director of Communications:

“The City of Pearland denies all allegations made by Mr. Jones and is ready to defend that position. The City is an Equal Opportunity Employer with an objective hiring process designed to prevent discrimination when evaluating job applicants and selecting individuals to work here at the City of Pearland.”