Former Airport employee claims discrimination

BROWNSVILLE — A former airport employee has sued the city of Brownsville, alleging he suffered discriminated because he is from India.

Sesha Sai Vorrey, who was appointed interim director of the Brownsville South Padre Island Airport after the July 2015 departure of longtime director Larry Brown, originally filed the lawsuit Sept. 8 in the 197th state District Court. On Oct. 20 the suit was moved to federal court. Employment discrimination claims often end up under federal jurisdiction.

According to the lawsuit, Vorrey’s troubles started in December 2016. By Feb. 10, Airport Director Bryant Walker, who was hired in May 2016, issued Vorrey a formal termination letter.

“Mr. Walker states that he is terminating Mr. Vorrey as a result of allegations of misconduct reported on or about December 11, 2016, and on or about December 21, 2016,” according to the lawsuit. “Mr. Walker states he has lost confidence in Mr. Vorrey’s credibility and his ability to carry out the duties and functions of the position he held at the airport at the time of his termination.”

Court documents show that allegations arose that Vorrey’s I-129 Visa application had been falsified. That type of visa allows non-citizens to work in the U.S.

“These allegations were unsubstantiated and impacted Mr. Vorrey’s immigration status and employment at the City of Brownsville,” Vorrey’s attorney Anthony P. Troiani claims in the lawsuit. It’s not clear whether Vorrey is still in the states. An email requesting comment from Troiani and asking for an opportunity to speak with Vorrey was not answered.

In its initial response to the lawsuit, which was filed in the 197th state District Court, the city “generally denies all material allegations.” The city also “asserts government immunity” and has asked the court to “deny any and all relief” or “any future live pleading.” In other words, the city wants the case thrown out because it believes the allegations are baseless.

Ricardo J. Navarro, the attorney representing Brownsville, was out of town and could not comment. Airport Director Walker declined to comment.

In addition to alleging the city discriminated against him because of his national origin when firing him from the airport, Vorrey also alleges the city libeled, slandered and retaliated against him.

Alleging libel, Vorrey claims Brownsville “with actual malice published a false statement of fact, alleging that Mr. Vorrey falsified documents associated with his I-129 Visa application.” The lawsuit claims Vorrey filed a charge and complaint, resulting in “a campaign of retaliation which included demoting Mr. Vorrey.” The lawsuit doesn’t say where Vorrey filed a complaint, but he did file a charge with the Texas Workforce Commission alleging violations of the Texas Labor Code, according to the lawsuit.

Vorrey claims the city slandered him by orally making “false statements of fact referring to Plaintiff which imputed a crime against Plaintiff.”

Vorrey is seeking up to $100,000 in damages.