Former Texans employee says he was fired because he's black

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A former Houston Texans front office employee is alleging he was fired on the basis of his race and color.

Jeff Pope, who is African American, filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Wednesday charging discrimination.

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Since 2017, Pope was the team's security coordinator. He claims he was fired last month by then-General Manager Brian Gaine, who was fired himself last week after only one season with the Texans.

"That spoke to me as an attorney," said N. Lucy Chuwurah, Pope's attorney. "Seems to me that's a remedial action to limit their damages."

She says the official reason for termination the Texans gave was because Pope has no law enforcement background, something that wasn't required when he was hired. His job was mostly about logistics, she explained.

In his lengthy complaint, Pope listed a half-dozen other African American men who, he said, were also fired by Gaine.

Chukwurah believes discrimination is part of the Texans' culture.

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"Clearly, from the statement made last year of the inmates running the prison, this seems to be a top-down treatment of African Americans," Chukwurah said. "My clients were accused of hanging out while on the job, when they were eating lunch. Made to feel uncomfortable when they took lunch together. This is not what an organization the stature of the Texans should be engaging in."

In response, the Houston Texans said, "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. This claim by Mr. Pope was not a factor in the recent decision to relieve Brian Gaine from his job as general manager."

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