Recently fired Houston Texans general manager Brian Gaine “targeted” African American employees in a series of firings during his tenure, a former Texans security coordinator alleged in a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 

Jeff Pope, who was notified he would not be retained by the team May 8, made a series of allegations in a 4,500-word charge of discrimination complaint obtained by USA TODAY Sports early Thursday morning. Gaine was fired by the Texans on Friday with little insight into the move disclosed by the team. 

Attempts to reach Gaine were not immediately successful Thursday morning.

Texans spokesperson Amy Palcic told The Houston Chronicle that Pope’s allegations of racial bias “was not a factor in the recent decision to relieve Brian Gaine from his job as general manager.” 

“We have just been made aware of Mr. Pope’s claim,” Palcic said. “We do not comment on pending litigation. The Houston Texans do not tolerate personal or professional discrimination of any kind.”

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Texans helmet lays on the bench during the game. (Photo: Jeremy Brevard, USA TODAY Sports)

Pope, who is African American, listed eight other African Americans who were allegedly fired by Gaine after he took over as GM in January 2018. 

“It appeared, and I believe, that he was targeting all minorities in leadership positions and was set to replace them with non-African-Americans. Which he did,” Pope wrote in the complaint.

Pope wrote that it became evident that African Americans were “being singled out/targeted” when Gaine allegedly chastised him in December for eating in the players’ cafeteria as he’d done since his arrival in 2017. 

“In short, every African American in the building understood that not too many of us could congregate or be seen interacting with each other even during lunch because it did not look good to the powers that be,” Pope alleged. 

Pope said the reason he was given for his termination was the lack of a background in law enforcement. 

“I believe I was discriminated against and terminated on the basis of my race and color,” Pope wrote. 

Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the EEOC will investigate a charge of discrimination that could make a determination that discrimination took place – which would lead to mediation – or the federal agency could sue the employer. The person who makes a complaint can sue the employer if the EEOC doesn’t find a “reasonable cause to believe discrimination occurred,” according to the agency’s website. 

“I was going to handle this the way I handle most of my claims: quietly,” N. Lucy Chukwurah, Pope’s attorney, told The Houston Chronicle. “When the Texans terminated Mr. Gaine, that caught my attention. They terminated him a few days after they spoke with their counsel. I found that to be unusual.”