Summary Judgment Denied: Washington et al v. The Ensign Group, Inc. (ENSG) et al

03-07-2017 – Buckle in. The Court just denied The Ensign Group’s motion for Summary Judgment on the plaintiffs’ claims of racial discrimination and gender discrimination against homosexuals and retaliation. The original allegations are troubling:

On March 5, 2013, less than three months after being recognized for her performance and a mere 11 days after she participated in the investigation concerning discrimination, Mrs. Washington’s employment with Defendants was terminated.

On March 5, 2013, less than two weeks after participating in the workplace investigation concerning discrimination, Mrs. Bean’s employment was terminated.

On at least one occasion, Dean Anderson, Southland’s former Administrator, asked the Director of Nursing, “What’s wrong with him? Gay?”

Less than two weeks after participating in the investigation Mr. Hunziker’s employment was terminated.

No one seems to have noticed yet, but keep your eyes here for coverage.

The full complaint follows below.

ORAL ORDER issued from the bench denying Oral Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law. Signed by Magistrate Judge Zack Hawthorn on 3/6/2017. (ttp, ) (Entered: 03/07/2017)

ORAL ORDER denying 78 Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law. Signed by Magistrate Judge Zack Hawthorn on 3/6/2017. (ttp, ) (Entered: 03/07/2017)

Case 9:15-cv-00113-ZJH   Document 1   Filed 07/08/15   Page 1 of 21 PageID #:  1

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS

LUFKIN DIVISION

 

FLORIA WASHINGTON, GLORIA                §

BEAN, RANDAL HUNZIKER,                        §

RHONDA PORTER, and MEIOSHA              §

WHITE                                                                 §

Plaintiffs,                                                  §

  1. § CIVIL ACTION NO.: 9:15-cv-00113

PINEY LUFKIN HEALTHCARE, INC. §       JURY TRIAL DEMANDED

d/b/a SOUTHLAND § REHABILITATION AND §

HEALTHCARE CENTER and THE                §

ENSIGN GROUP, INC.,                                    §

  •               Defendants.           §

                                                                                                

 

PLAINTIFFS’ ORIGINAL COMPLAINT

                                                                                                

 

FLORIA WASHINGTON, GLORIA BEAN, RANDAL HUNZIKER, RHONDA

PORTER AND MEIOSHA WHITE (collectively “Plaintiffs”), file this lawsuit against PINEY LUFKIN HEALTHCARE, INC. d/b/a SOUTHLAND REHABILITATION AND HEALTHCARE CENTER and THE ENSIGN GROUP, INC (collectively “Defendants”),

and for cause of action would show the following:

NATURE OF CLAIMS

 

  1. This is an action filed under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §2000e, et al. (“Title VII”) to correct unlawful employment practices. As described in further detail below, Plaintiffs were subjected to unlawful discrimination. Furthermore, after opposing these practices and participating in an Case 9:15-cv-00113-ZJH Document 1   Filed 07/08/15   Page 2 of 21 PageID #:  2

investigation conducted by Defendants concerning workplace discrimination, they were subjected to retaliation and promptly terminated from their employment with

Defendants.

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

 

  1. Plaintiffs’ claims arise under Title VII. Accordingly, this court has subject

matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f).

  1. Venue is proper in this district pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2) because a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to Plaintiffs’ claims occurred in

this district.

  1. Venue is also appropriate in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Lufkin Division, based upon the fact that Defendants have

significant contacts within this district.

III.

THE PARTIES

 

  1. Plaintiff, Floria Washington (“Mrs. Washington”), is an individual who resides in Lufkin, Texas. At all pertinent times she was a resident within the Eastern District of Texas.
  2. Plaintiff, Gloria Bean (“Mrs. Bean”), is an individual who resides in Lufkin, Texas. At all pertinent times she was a resident within the Eastern District of Texas.
  3. Plaintiff, Randal Hunziker (“Mr. Hunziker”), is an individual who resides in Lufkin, Texas. At all pertinent times he was a resident within the Eastern District of Case 9:15-cv-00113-ZJH Document 1   Filed 07/08/15   Page 3 of 21 PageID #:  3

Texas.

  1. Plaintiff, Rhonda Porter (“Mrs. Porter”), is an individual who resides in Lufkin, Texas. At all pertinent times she was a resident within the Eastern District of Texas.
  2. Plaintiff, MeiOsha White (“Mrs. White”), is an individual who resides in Lufkin, Texas. At all pertinent times she was a resident within the Eastern District of Texas.
  3. Defendant Piney Lufkin Healthcare, Inc. d/b/a Southland Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center is a foreign corporation doing business in Texas, and may be served by serving its registered agent, National Registered Agents, Inc., 1999 Bryan St., Suite 900, Dallas, Texas 75201-3136.
  4. Defendant, The Ensign Group, Inc., is a foreign corporation doing business in Texas, and may be served by serving its registered agent, National

Registered Agents, Inc., 818 W. Seventh St., Suite 930, Los Angeles, California 90017.

FACTS

 

Defendants’ Business

  1. Ensign Group, Inc. (“Ensign”), and its subsidiaries provide skilled nursing and assisted living services, as well as other rehabilitative and healthcare services at over 100 facilities in Texas, California, Arizona, Washington, Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Nevada, Iowa, Nebraska and Oregon.
  2. Piney Lufkin Healthcare, Inc. d/b/a Southland Rehabilitation and

Healthcare Center (“Southland”), is a subsidiary of Ensign.

Case 9:15-cv-00113-ZJH   Document 1   Filed 07/08/15   Page 4 of 21 PageID #:  4

  1. Southland, which is located at 501 North Medford Drive, Lufkin, Texas

75901, provides skilled nursing and rehabilitation services.

  1. Timberwood Nursing and Rehabilitation (Timberwood) is another

subsidiary of Ensign, which provides skilled nursing and rehabilitation services, at a facility located at 4001 Highway 59 North, Livingston, Texas 77351.

Floria Washington

  1. Floria Washington is an African-American female.
  2. Washington first received her license as a Registered Nurse from the

Texas Board of Nursing on March 20, 1981.

  1. Washington has never been subject to any disciplinary action by the

Texas Board of Nursing.

  1. On August 7, 2006, Mrs. Washington was offered a position as Director of

Nursing at Timberwood.

  1. Throughout her tenure at Timberwood, Mrs. Washington was never

disciplined for any reason.

  1. In fact, under the leadership of Mrs. Washington as Director of Nursing Timberwood received a prestigious Company award known as the “Ensign Flag.”
  2. The “Ensign Flag” is an award given by Ensign to skilled nursing and assisted living facilities that demonstrate the highest standards of quality care and customer satisfaction.
  3. This was the first time the Ensign Flag was awarded to any facility in

Texas.

Case 9:15-cv-00113-ZJH   Document 1   Filed 07/08/15   Page 5 of 21 PageID #:  5

  1. On or about January 1, 2009, Mrs. Washington was transferred from

Timberwood to Southland.

  1. Under Mrs. Washington’s clinical leadership, Southland was promoted

from a 1-Star Facility to a 4-Star Facility.

  1. The 4-Star designation demonstrates excellence in care, among other notable achievements.
  2. In January 2013, Mrs. Washington was recognized for Outstanding Survey

Management and for clinical improvement.

  1. On or about February 21-22, 2013, Mrs. Washington participated in an investigation concerning workplace discrimination.
  2. During the investigation, Mrs. Washington complained of and opposed

workplace discrimination.

  1. On March 5, 2013, less than three months after being recognized for her performance and a mere 11 days after she participated in the investigation concerning discrimination, Mrs. Washington’s employment with Defendants was terminated.

Gloria Bean

  1. Plaintiff Gloria Bean is an African-American female.
  2. Bean first received her license as a Registered Nurse from the Texas

Board of Nursing on August 22, 1986.

  1. Bean has never been subject to any disciplinary action by the Texas

Board of Nursing.

  1. On or about January 16, 2009, Mrs. Bean was hired as the

Case 9:15-cv-00113-ZJH   Document 1   Filed 07/08/15   Page 6 of 21 PageID #:  6

Admissions/Marketing Director at Southland.

  1. On or about April 1, 2010, Mrs. Bean was transferred into an

administrative support position at Southland.

  1. On or about April 27, 2011, Mrs. Bean became the MDS Coordinator at

Southland.

  1. In June 2012, Mrs. Bean was promoted and became one of two Assistant

Directors of Nursing at Southland.

  1. On or about February 21-22, 2013, Mrs. Bean participated in an

investigation concerning workplace discrimination.

  1. During the investigation, Mrs. Bean complained of and opposed

workplace discrimination.

  1. On March 5, 2013, less than two weeks after participating in the workplace investigation concerning discrimination, Mrs. Bean’s employment was terminated.
  2. Before her termination, Defendants never disciplined Mrs. Bean for any reason.

Randall Hunziker

  1. Hunziker is a Caucasian male.
  2. Hunziker is homosexual male and his sexual orientation was well known while he worked at Southland’s facility.
  3. On at least one occasion, Dean Anderson, Southland’s former Administrator, asked the Director of Nursing, “What’s wrong with him? Gay?”
  4. Plaintiff Randall Hunziker received his license as a Licensed Vocational

Case 9:15-cv-00113-ZJH   Document 1   Filed 07/08/15   Page 7 of 21 PageID #:  7

Nurse from the Texas Board of Nursing on September 7, 20004.

  1. Hunziker has never been subject to any disciplinary action by the

Texas Board of Nursing.

  1. On or about June 26, 2012, Mr. Hunziker was hired as one of two Assistant

Directors of Nursing at Southland.

  1. On February 21 or 22, 2013, Mr. Hunziker was asked to participate in an

investigation concerning workplace discrimination.

  1. Hunziker was on his day off, and came to Southland’s facility to

participate in Defendants’ investigation.

  1. During the investigation, Mr. Hunziker provided information concerning discrimination he observed.
  2. Less than two weeks after participating in the investigation Mr.

Hunziker’s employment was terminated.

  1. Prior to his termination, Defendants never disciplined or counseled Mr.

Hunziker for any reason.

Rhonda Porter

  1. Plaintiff Rhonda Porter is an African-American female.
  2. On or about November 1, 2007, Mrs. Porter was hired as the Medical

Records Director at Timberland.

  1. In 2009, Mrs. Porter was transferred to Southland.
  2. During her tenure at Southland, Mrs. Porter was awarded “Employee of the Month” and also earned the “Moment of Truth” award for going above and beyond Case 9:15-cv-00113-ZJH Document 1   Filed 07/08/15   Page 8 of 21 PageID #:  8

the call of duty.

  1. After Dean Anderson took over the Southland facility as Administrator, Mrs. Porter submitted employee surveys in which she addressed concerns regarding discrimination.
  2. On February 21 or 22, 2013, Mrs. Porter also participated in a workplace investigation concerning complaints of discrimination made against Dean Anderson.
  3. During the investigation, Mrs. Porter provided the investigators with multiple examples of racially derogatory statements made by Mr. Anderson, including

his reference to “slave labor” during a morning meeting.

  1. On March 5, 2013, less than two weeks after participating in the investigation, Mrs. Porter was terminated.
  2. Before her termination, Defendants never disciplined or counseled Mrs.

Porter for any reason.

MeiOsha White

  1. White is an African-American female.
  2. On or about August 9, 2012, Mrs. White was hired as the Assistant

Activities Director at Southland.

  1. On February 21 or 22, 2013, Mrs. White participated in a workplace investigation concerning complaints of discrimination made against Dean Anderson.
  2. During the investigation, Mrs. White complained of discrimination she

suffered and witnessed while working at Southland.

  1. On or about March 6, 2013, less than two weeks after participating in the

Case 9:15-cv-00113-ZJH   Document 1   Filed 07/08/15   Page 9 of 21 PageID #:  9

investigation, Mrs. White was terminated.

  1. Before her termination, Defendants never disciplined or counseled Mrs.

White for any reason.

Discrimination at Defendants’ Workplace

  1. On or about August 28, 2012, Dean Anderson was hired as Southland’s

Operations Manager.

  1. Dean Anderson is a Caucasian male.
  2. On or about December 3, 2012, Mr. Anderson became Southland’s

Administrator.

  1. As Southland’s Administrator, Mr. Anderson was responsible for the overall operation of the facility, including the Nursing Department.
  2. After Mr. Anderson began working at Southland he demonstrated an obvious discriminatory animus towards African-Americans.
  3. As an example, Mr. Anderson made a racially derogatory comment regarding “slave labor” during a morning meeting before all department heads.
  4. Additionally, when a distinguished Black Church Choir group from the community was singing to patients, Mr. Anderson and John Tygart (another Southland

employee) referred to them as the “Red Blood Gang” or “Bloods”.

  1. Anderson also demonstrated a discriminatory animus towards Mr. Hunziker due to his sexual orientation or his failure to follow traditional male

stereotypes.

  1. After Mr. Anderson was promoted to the position of Administrator

Case 9:15-cv-00113-ZJH   Document 1   Filed 07/08/15   Page 10 of 21 PageID #:  10

several employees complained that Mr. Anderson was unlawfully discriminating against other employees.

  1. As an example, on or about November 7, 2012, Ms. Shirley Young, a Caucasian employee, complained that (1) Mr. Anderson was discriminating against African-American employees, (2) Mr. Anderson demonstrated a negative disposition towards African-American employees; (3) Mr. Anderson singled out African American employees; and (4) Mr. Anderson made a comment regarding “slave labor” that he knew was inappropriate and racial in nature because he quickly attempted to cover up

his comment.

  1. Shirley Young also complained at a later date that Mr. Anderson favored “straight” (non-homosexual) White employees.
  2. Each of the Plaintiffs also complained of discrimination.
  3. By way of example, Mrs. Bean made a call to Defendants’ Compliance Hotline concerning the discrimination she observed towards African-American employees.
  4. Bean also submitted a complaint through Defendants’ website: http://ensign group.silentwhistle.com
  5. Washington, Mr. Hunziker, Mrs. Porter and Mrs. White also complained of Mr. Anderson engaging in workplace discrimination.

Defendants’ Investigation

  1. On February 21 and 22, 2013, employees of Ensign visited Southland to conduct an investigation regarding complaints made to a compliance hotline and via Case 9:15-cv-00113-ZJH Document 1   Filed 07/08/15   Page 11 of 21 PageID #:  11

internal employee surveys during the preceding months (“the Investigation”).

  1. Some of the complaints made, which were the subject of Defendants’ investigation, included complaints of discrimination by Mr. Anderson, as well as inappropriate comments and behavior by Mr. Anderson.
  2. In 2013, Ms. Carissa Podesta was the Director of Human Resources for

Ensign.

  1. Podesta was made aware of complaints submitted by Southland employees.
  2. Some of the complaints Ms. Podesta reviewed, included complaints that

Mr. Anderson was engaging in inappropriate discrimination.

  1. Podesta discussed these complaints with Ms. Debbie Miller, who was

the Chief Compliance Officer for Ensign in February 2013.

  1. Podesta and Ms. Miller agreed that an investigation should be

conducted concerning the allegations of discrimination against Mr. Anderson.

  1. Miller participated in the Investigation.
  2. The Investigation was conducted on February 21-22, 2013 at Southland’s facility in Lufkin.
  3. Each of the Plaintiffs participated in the investigation.
  4. During the Investigation, Mrs. Washington provided information concerning discrimination.
  5. As an example, Mrs. Washington complained that Mr. Anderson did not like Mr. Hunziker because of his sexual orientation. Mrs. Washington referenced Mr.

Case 9:15-cv-00113-ZJH   Document 1   Filed 07/08/15   Page 12 of 21 PageID #:  12

Anderson’s religious beliefs in support of her observation that Mr. Anderson was prejudice against homosexuals.

  1. During the Investigation, Mrs. Bean also provided information concerning discrimination.
  2. As an example, Mrs. Bean complained that Mr. Anderson did not like Mr. Hunziker because Mr. Hunziker is homosexual.
  3. During the Investigation, Mr. Hunziker also provided information concerning discrimination.
  4. By way of example, Mr. Hunziker informed the compliance team that Mr. Anderson never spoke to him out of professional courtesy or even in passing, and that he believed it was due to his sexual orientation. Hunziker also provided the investigators with examples of race discrimination, including the “slave labor” comment Mr. Anderson made in a morning meeting in front of all department heads.
  5. During the Investigation, Mrs. Porter also provided information concerning discrimination.
  6. By way of example, Mrs. Porter informed the compliance team that Mr. Anderson made a racially derogatory comment concerning “slave labor” during a

morning meeting in front of all department heads.

  1. During the Investigation, Mrs. White also provided information concerning discrimination.
  2. By way of example, Mrs. White informed the compliance team that Mr. Anderson failed to speak with her, while he spoke to White employees, and otherwise Case 9:15-cv-00113-ZJH Document 1   Filed 07/08/15   Page 13 of 21 PageID #:  13

treated her less favorably than Caucasian employees.

Retaliation and Plaintiffs’ Unlawful Terminations

  1. Defendants terminated each of the Plaintiffs less than two weeks after they participated in Defendants’ investigation and after they opposed discriminatory

practices at Defendants’ workplace.

  1. The decision to terminate Plaintiffs’ employment was made by both

Ensign and Southland.

  1. Jorge Rojas was an authorized agent of Southland in February and

March 2013.

  1. Rojas reviewed information provided to him concerning the

Investigation.

  1. Tim Burningham was a member of Southland’s Governing Body in

February and March 2013.

  1. Burningham reviewed information provided to him concerning the

Investigation.

  1. Both Mr. Rojas and Mr. Burningham were involved in the decision to

terminate the Plaintiffs.

  1. Rojas and Mr. Burningham made the decision to terminate Plaintiffs following the recommendations made by Ensign.
  2. At the time the decision was made to terminate Plaintiffs, Defendants were aware that Plaintiffs participated in the investigation concerning workplace discrimination.

Case 9:15-cv-00113-ZJH   Document 1   Filed 07/08/15   Page 14 of 21 PageID #:  14

  1. Defendants terminated Mrs. Washington’s employment on March 5, 2013.
  2. Defendants’ stated reason for Mrs. Washington’s termination was that she

engaged in unprofessional conduct and was undermining Mr. Anderson.

  1. This reason is false, and a mere pretext for discrimination and retaliation.
  2. Washington was replaced by a Caucasian individual.
  3. Defendants terminated Mrs. Bean on March 5, 2013.
  4. Defendants’ stated reason for Mrs. Bean’s termination was that she was causing discord among the staff and was undermining Mr. Anderson.
  5. This reason is false, and a mere pretext for discrimination and retaliation.
  6. Bean was replaced by a Caucasian individual.
  7. Defendants terminated Mr. Hunziker’s employment on March 5, 2013.
  8. Defendants’ stated reason for Mr. Hunziker’s termination was the he was undermining Administrator Dean Anderson. Defendants also stated that Southland

was going in a different direction with its nursing leadership.

  1. This reason is false, and a mere pretext for discrimination and retaliation.
  2. Upon information and belief, Mr. Hunziker was replaced by a nonhomosexual individual, or an individual who follows traditional male or female

stereotypes.

  1. Defendants terminated Mrs. Porter’s employment on March 5, 2013.
  2. Defendants’ stated reason for terminating Mrs. Porter’s employment was that she engaged in gross misconduct by instructing an employee to lie and threatening an employee for telling the truth.

Case 9:15-cv-00113-ZJH   Document 1   Filed 07/08/15   Page 15 of 21 PageID #:  15

  1. This reason is completely disingenuous, and a mere pretext for

discrimination and retaliation.

  1. Upon information and belief, Mrs. Porter was replaced by a Caucasian employee.
  2. Defendants terminated Mrs. White’s employment on or about March 6,
  3. Defendants’ stated reason for terminating Mrs. White’s employment was that she engaged in disruptive behavior and abandoned her work.
  4. This reason is false, and a mere pretext for discrimination and retaliation.
  5. In fact, following a hearing that included sworn testimony by Defendants, the Texas Workforce Commission’s Appeals Tribunal found that Mrs. White did not

engage in misconduct.

  1. Upon information and belief, Mrs. White was replaced by a Caucasian

employee.

  1. Adding insult to injury, Defendants issued a criminal trespass warning

against each of the Plaintiffs.

  1. Defendants had never issued a criminal trespass warning against any

terminated employee prior to Plaintiffs.

CONDITIONS PRECEDENT

 

  1. All conditions precedent to jurisdiction have occurred or been complied

with.

  1. Each plaintiff timely filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal

Case 9:15-cv-00113-ZJH   Document 1   Filed 07/08/15   Page 16 of 21 PageID #:  16

Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”).

  1. This lawsuit was filed within ninety (90) days of Plaintiffs receiving their

Notice of Right to Sue from the EEOC.

  1.         

CAUSES OF ACTION

COUNT 1:  Race and Color Discrimination in Violation of Title VII

 

  1. Plaintiffs incorporate by reference each of the facts and allegations set

forth in paragraphs 1 through 137.

  1. Defendants are an employer within the meaning of Title VII. See 42 U.S.C.
  • 2000e(b).
  1. Defendants are engaged in an industry affecting commerce.
  2. Defendants have an obligation under Title VII to maintain a work environment free from discrimination and harassment based upon an individual’s race

or color.

  1. Washington, Mrs. Bean, Mrs. Porter and Mrs. White are members of a protected class under Title VII, based upon their race (African-American) and color.
  2. Defendants, by and through their agents, subjected Mrs. Washington, Mrs. Bean, Mrs. Porter and Mrs. White to discrimination based upon their race and color.
  3. The discrimination complained of affected a term, privilege and/or condition of Mrs. Washington’s, Mrs. Bean’s, Mrs. Porter’s and Mrs. White’s employment.
  4. As a result of the discrimination they suffered, Mrs. Washington, Mrs. Bean, Mrs. Porter and Mrs. White have incurred economic losses, including lost income Case 9:15-cv-00113-ZJH Document 1   Filed 07/08/15   Page 17 of 21 PageID #:  17

and employment benefits.  Accordingly, Plaintiffs seek an award of back pay, front pay, and injunctive relief, as may be required to correct the unlawful employment practices.

  1. Plaintiffs also suffered humiliation, embarrassment, ridicule, and emotional distress as a direct result of the discrimination they suffered. Therefore, Plaintiffs seek damages for mental anguish, humiliation, embarrassment,

inconvenience, and emotional pain and suffering.

  1. By engaging in the conduct set forth above, Defendants acted

intentionally, with a reckless disregard for its obligations under the law and conscious indifference to Plaintiffs’ rights to equal employment opportunities. Defendants’ conduct, as alleged herein, was malicious, oppressive, reprehensible and inexcusable. Accordingly, Plaintiffs are entitled to an award of punitive damages in an amount to be

determined by the jury at trial.

COUNT 2:  Gender Discrimination in Violation of Title VII

 

  1. Plaintiff, Randal Hunziker, incorporates by reference each of the facts and allegations set forth in paragraphs 1 through 137.
  2. Defendants have an obligation under Title VII to maintain a work environment free from discrimination based upon an individual’s sex or gender.
  3. Discrimination against gay or homosexual individuals based on sexstereotypes, such as the belief that men should only marry women, is discrimination on the basis of sex under Title VII.
  4. In fact, more than two decades ago the United States Supreme Court found that a plaintiff may rely on gender-stereotyping evidence to show that Case 9:15-cv-00113-ZJH Document 1   Filed 07/08/15   Page 18 of 21 PageID #:  18

discrimination occurred because of sex in violation of Title VII.

  1. Defendants, by and through their agents, subjected Mr. Hunziker to

discrimination based upon his sex.

  1. The discrimination complained of affected a term, privilege and/or

condition of Mr. Hunziker’s employment.

  1. As a result of the discrimination he suffered, Mr. Hunziker incurred economic losses, including lost income and employment benefits. Accordingly, he seeks an award of back pay, front pay, and injunctive relief, as may be required to

correct the unlawful employment practices.

  1. Hunziker also suffered humiliation, embarrassment, ridicule, and emotional distress as a direct result of the discrimination and harassment he suffered. Therefore, Mr. Hunziker seeks damages for mental anguish, humiliation,

embarrassment, inconvenience, and emotional pain and suffering.

  1. By engaging in the conduct set forth above, Defendants acted

intentionally, with a reckless disregard for its obligations under the law and conscious indifference to Mr. Hunziker’s rights to equal employment opportunities. Defendants’ conduct, as alleged herein, was malicious, oppressive, reprehensible and inexcusable. Accordingly, Mr. Hunziker is entitled to an award of punitive damages in an amount to be determined by the jury at trial.

COUNT 3:  Retaliation in Violation of Title VII

 

  1. Plaintiffs incorporate by reference each of the facts and allegations set forth in paragraphs 1 through 137.

Case 9:15-cv-00113-ZJH   Document 1   Filed 07/08/15   Page 19 of 21 PageID #:  19

  1. Title VII specifically provides that it is an unlawful employment practice for any employer to discriminate or retaliate against any of its employees because they

have opposed any unlawful employment practice or have participated in an investigation concerning unlawful employment practices. See 42 U.S.C. §2000e-3(a).

  1. Plaintiffs opposed discrimination and also participated in an investigation concerning discrimination and employment practices deemed unlawful under Title VII.
  2. Following their complaints, opposition to unlawful employment practices and participation in an investigation concerning discrimination, Plaintiffs were

subjected to retaliation, including the termination of their employment.

  1. As a result of Defendants’ retaliation against Plaintiffs, they have suffered damages, including, but not limited to lost wages and benefits.
  2. Plaintiffs also suffered humiliation, embarrassment, ridicule, and emotional distress as a direct result of the retaliation and unlawful terminations.

VII.

ATTORNEY’S FEES

 

  1. As a direct and proximate result of Defendants’ violations of the law, as described above, Plaintiffs were compelled to retain legal counsel in an effort to protect

their legal rights and file this lawsuit.

  1. Plaintiffs have incurred, and will continue to incur, legal fees and costs,

the nature and extent of which are presently unknown.

  1. Accordingly, Plaintiffs request an award of attorney’s fees, costs and expenses, including, but not limited to, expert witness fees, as allowed by all applicable statutes.

Case 9:15-cv-00113-ZJH   Document 1   Filed 07/08/15   Page 20 of 21 PageID #:  20

VIII.

JURY DEMAND

 

  1. Plaintiffs demand a jury trial on all issues to be tried in this matter.

PRAYER

 

For these reasons, Plaintiffs pray that Defendants be cited to appear and answer, and that judgment be entered in Plaintiffs’ favor for the following damages and relief:

  1. Any loss of earnings and employment benefits sustained by Plaintiffs from the date of the discrimination and retaliation to the date of trial;

 

  1. Any loss of earnings and employment benefits reasonably anticipated to be suffered by Plaintiffs in the future;

 

  1. Mental anguish, humiliation, embarrassment, inconvenience, and emotional pain and suffering sustained by Plaintiffs from the date of the discrimination and retaliation to the date of trial;

 

  1. Mental anguish, humiliation, embarrassment, inconvenience, and emotional pain and suffering reasonably anticipated to be suffered by Plaintiffs in the future;

 

  1. All other actual or compensatory damages authorized by law;

 

  1. Punitive and exemplary damages;

 

  1. Attorney’s fees;

 

  1. All costs of court authorized by law;

 

  1. Pre-judgment interest at the highest rate allowed by law;

 

  1. Post-judgment interest at the highest rate allowed by law;

 

  1. Injunctive relief; and

 

  1. All other relief, legal or equitable, to which Plaintiffs may be entitled.

 

 

 

 

Case 9:15-cv-00113-ZJH   Document 1   Filed 07/08/15   Page 21 of 21 PageID #:  21

Respectfully submitted,

                                                                                             /s/  Francisco  Caycedo

Francisco Caycedo

Texas Bar No. 24040664

Federal I.D. No.: 36976

CAYCEDO LAW, P.C.

14090 Southwest Freeway, Suite 300

Sugar Land, Texas 77478

281.340.2022 (Main)                          281.715.5000 (Fax)

frank.caycedo@caycedolaw.com                                                                 ATTORNEY-IN-CHARGE FOR PLAINTIFFS

 

OF COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS:

 

Keith Lapeze

Texas Bar No.: 24010176 Federal I.D. No.: 24437

LAPEZE & JOHNS, PLLC

601 Sawyer St., Suite 650

Houston, Texas 77007

Tel. (713) 739-1010

Fax (713) 739-1015

Email:  keith@lapezejohns.com

 

 

 

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