Texas Chief Sues Alleging Age Discrimination

A Texas fire chief who was terminated last year has filed suit alleging age discrimination. Tommy Ureste was the fire chief for the city of Mercedes.

Chief Ureste was fired by Mercedes City Manager, Sergio Zavala, after a firefighter alleged the chief had assaulted him. The chief denied the allegations and was never charged by police.

His lawsuit filed in Hidalgo County Court alleges a single count of age discrimination under the Texas Labor Code. Quoting from the complaint:

  • Chief Ureste was part of a protected class since he was over age 40 at the time of the City’s wrongful termination.
  • Younger city employees were treated better. For example, younger city employees are allowed to make false police reports and are not disciplined. Younger city employees are given progressive discipline.
  • Despite a spotless disciplinary history and positive evaluations (4.8, 4.9 and 5.0 on a scale of 1.0 to 5.0), Chief Ureste was not given progressive discipline.
  • Chief Ureste files suit because unlawful age discrimination motivated the City when it fired him in January 2020.

The suit seeks between  $200,000.00 and $1 million. Here is a copy of the complaint:

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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