HOUSTON (CN) – A Houston apartment complex fired a Hispanic office manager because she didn’t “have the look of Ken and Barbie” that it wanted for its staff and tenants, the EEOC claims in Federal Court.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Ryan’s Pointe LLC dba Advantage Property Management on Sept. 24 for Magali Villalobos.
The complex employed Villalobos as an assistant manager when Ryan’s Pointe bought it in June 2011.
“After defendant purchased the property, its ownership and managers held a meeting telling staff that they wanted to change the racial demographics of the apartment complex, calling the black and Hispanic tenants ‘riff raff,'” the complaint states.
The EEOC says Ryan’s Pointe promoted Villalobos to office manager in January 2012 and that same month managers griped to her about the number of Hispanics on staff.
Ryan’s Pointe hired a new regional manager the following month and told her to fire Villalobos “because defendant wanted to change the racial demographic of the tenants and of the staff, adding that defendant wanted a higher class of individual with the look of Ken and Barbie,” the EEOC claims.
Villalobos told her bosses she was pregnant a short time later and they didn’t take it well, according to the complaint. “One manager said he was sure (Villalobos) would take off the maximum time allowed ‘because that is what Mexicans do,'” the EEOC says.
Ryan’s Pointe fired Villalobos within weeks and she filed a discrimination claim with the EEOC.
The agency says it sent Ryan’s Pointe a “letter of determination” in August 2014, which stated it had found evidence of civil rights violations and invited the company to a meeting to voluntarily resolve the discriminatory policies.
“The commission was unable to secure from defendant a conciliation agreement acceptable to the commission,” the complaint states.
Though Hayman Properties LLC is not named as a defendant or mentioned in the lawsuit, the Los Angeles-based company’s website says it bought the complex in June 2011, the same month the complaint says Ryan’s Pointe bought it.
EEOC attorney Rudy Sustaita said in an interview that attorneys representing the apartment complex told EEOC lawyers the company name was Ryan’s Pointe LLC, and he’s not sure if Hayman Properties is the actual owner.
Hayman Properties did not respond to a comment request.
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