Ex-Employees Allege Age Bias in Firings at Pemex

The dismissed employees included several older, experienced workers at the company that handles international procurement

May 29--After giving an upbeat financial report during a companywide employee meeting in early 2013, the new president and CEO of Pemex Procurement International told those assembled that no one would be losing their jobs, a lawsuit filed this week in Harris County says.

But a little more than a month later, the company terminated 15 employees during an "alleged restructuring," according to the lawsuit, filed by seven of the terminated workers. The lawsuit says the group of dismissed employees included several older, experienced workers at the company that handles international procurement for Pemex, the Mexican state-owned energy company.

The plaintiffs allege age discrimination against Integrated Trade Systems, now known as Pemex Procurement International.

All seven employees were over 50 and all were replaced after they were terminated, in some instances by younger and less experienced workers, the lawsuit alleges.

The seven terminated employees had an average tenure at the company of more than 20 years, but the lawsuit says Pemex did not offer them severance payments.

All were given an hour or less to gather their personal belongings before they left the building.

The company did not return a call for comment.

The lawsuit also alleges that the seven employees were cut loose shortly before they would have received their bonuses for 2012.

In addition to replacing the terminated employees, the company brought on "numerous newer, substantially younger and less experienced employees" to handle what company officials had predicted would be a "tsunami of new work," the lawsuit claims.

The company told the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that its decision to fire the seven employees was partially driven by a desire for "energetic" reform, which the employees believe supports their claim that it was their age and disability that caused them to lose their jobs, according to the lawsuit.

One of the employees who was terminated is a stroke survivor and walks with a limp.

The lawsuit also cites an instance shortly before the mass firing in which one of the vice presidents "pronounced that people over 50 or that have been with the company more than 10 years are of no value to the company and must go."

The former employees who filed the lawsuit -- Ricardo Hidalgo, Ricardo Jimenez, Tomas Becerra, Juan Martinez, Julio Trigo, Clara Hernandez and Carlos Zamora -- were managers, an engineer, contract specialist, technical support, secretary and senior buyer.

Their annual pay ranged from $43,000 to $135,000, the lawsuit said.

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