The City of Huntington is a small community in east Texas of a little more than 2,000 people, and it would appear that the folks there take birthdays pretty damn seriously.
So much so, says one man who used to work for the city, that he was told he was being fired for missing his own birthday party.
Theodore Perez, who used to work for the city's Utility Department, claims he was terminated in October 2009 for failing to show up for an office party celebrating his birthday. He says he couldn't make it because he and his wife were at a cemetery visiting a grave.
A tad discourteous? Maybe. But it certainly doesn't sound like a fireable offense.
Perez doesn't think so, either. As first reported by Courthouse News Service, he is suing the City of Huntington, claiming the birthday nonsense was just a lame excuse to cover up the real reason he was fired: racial discrimination.
Perez's "termination for failing to attend his own birthday party was merely a ruse as [the City of Huntington] needed to reduce its budget and was on the lookout for an employee to terminate in order to reduce payroll," the lawsuit states. Perez "was selected rather than white males with less seniority, less experience and less service with" the city.
As proof that he was treated differently as a Hispanic, Perez claims that three white city employees didn't show up for the birthday party either, and none of them were fired or disciplined.
Perez is suing the city in federal court, alleging race discrimination and that the city failed to follow its own firing policies. Perez says that the normal process was not followed and that the mayor never reviewed his termination, as required.
He is asking for back pay, damages, and to get his old job back.
Wonder if they'll throw him another birthday party if he wins.