LUBBOCK, Texas -- A Texarkana law firm has filed suit against Texas Tech University alleging age discrimination led to the firing of a long-time employee.
Texarkana lawyers Jennifer Doan and Cole Criddell of Haltom & Doan filed suit recently in Lubbock County District Court on behalf of Pureza "Didit" Martinez. The complaint alleges Martinez, 72, was fired because of her age after more than 11 years of service and less than 24 hours after being notified she would receive a $25,000 merit raise in 2019.
The suit names Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Texas Tech University System, Texas Tech University and Texas Tech University System Board of Regents as defendants.
An internal email shared in May 2019 among the university's administrators allegedly illustrates a desire to reduce the average age of senior leadership, according to the complaint. Martinez alleges she was terminated on the morning of June 13, 2019, as chief of staff for the university because of her age and replaced with a younger, white male. Martinez is Asian.
The complaint alleges that over time university leadership changed the reasons it gave for Martinez' termination. Martinez has received a "right to sue" letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
"Dr. (Tedd) Mitchell's varying and shifting stories to faculty and staff is suspect in and of itself and shows that Mrs. Martinez was not terminated for a legitimate reason -- these excuses were merely pretext for unlawful discrimination based on her age," the complaint alleges.
Mitchell serves as the university's chancellor, according to the complaint.
Martinez refused to sign a settlement and non-disclosure agreement which would have prevented her from speaking about her termination.
The suit seeks a judgment in excess of $1 million in the form of actual damages, punitive damages, attorney fees and court costs.