Former El Paso Electric Employee To Get $5.8 Million


POSTED: Monday, December 27, 2010 - 9:10pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - 10:50am

A jury thinks a former El Paso Electric employee deserves $5.8 million after he was fired. The reason, he says, was discrimination. But it may not be the end to this dispute.

"They lied, they denied, and then they attacked," said attorney John Wenke. He represents Mark Duncan, who was a benefits supervisor for El Paso Electric until a confrontation in December of 2007.

"The human resources manager went into his office and basically had a meltdown, and threatened to kill him," Wenke said. He says Duncan did nothing wrong, and was a victim of workplace violence.

"He took a couple of days off, came back to work, and was given a termination notice," Wenke said.

EP Electric said Duncan was fired because he escalated the incident when he asked security to escort the threatening employee outside. Wenke says Duncan, who is white, was fired, because the company was afraid the employee who had the outburst, who is hispanic, would file a discrimination lawsuit.

"What they tried to do is use Mark Duncan's race as a defense and invited a second lawsuit," Wenke said.

An EP Electric supervisor also said in a sworn statement she didn't think Duncan did anything wrong and shouldn't be terminated.

But when the employee who had the outburst made a discrimination complaint, El Paso Electric responded by saying that discrimination complaint was unfounded because Duncan, white, was terminated for the same incident and the decision was made by a hispanic supervisor.

"They thought it was in their best interest to terminate the white guy as well," Wenke said.

A jury just decided to award Duncan$5.8 million, and although a judge will probably decrease the pay out, Wenke says Duncan just wanted his name cleared.

But El Paso Electric stands by its discipline and says the jury came to its decision based off incomplete and one-sided evidence.

In a statement, El Paso Electric said, "We are obviously disappointed in the verdict, which hurts not only El Paso Electric, but the entire El Paso community. Neither race nor national origin played any role whatsoever in our decision-making."

They plan to appeal - something that doesn't worry Wenke.

"An appeal is not going to create any new evidence, it's not going to change what they did in this particular case," Wenke said.

El Paso Electric says they've been in El Paso for over 100 years and that they provide jobs for almost 1,000 people.

Comments News Comments

The discrimination in this city against whites is unbelievable. Add to that the generations of Latino 'good old boy' networks, nepotism, and just out and out corruption, and you have the reason why I'm moving out of this hole as fast as I can. You can tell the city council that this is one 'whitey' that won't be paying his property taxes....

El Paso is all about reversed discrimination. If your not hispanic don't bother trying to get a job here.

Does Channel 9 not want to go back to an old story of "white" military wives who couldn't even get a job at Mc Donalds because they didn't know spanish.

Remember its not what you know but who you know and if your hispanic you have a better chance then anyone else.

Thank god i'm a half breed.

Doesn’t it make you wonder why someone would threaten to kill you in the first place; you must have done something to really piss them off. Stop crying big baby and deal with life, wasting tax payers money and time for your poor little ol’ me crap…Not sure how the show is run at El Paso Electric but come on, 5.8 million? If I would’ve been selected, I would’ve said give him 2,000 bucks and a pair of balls so he can man up and get over it.

Being fired….discrimination… happens…as for him deserving 5.8 million….please, the jury, ha, yeah must be on crack…..I say that in order to serve as a juror you must pass a high school level basic reading, writing, math comprehensive exam….that’s ridiculous, if I went around suing every time I’m discriminated against I would be a rich woman. At least I know who the best bullshitting attorney is now.

Finally some of the Electric Company's illegal employment practices are coming to light. Historically the company has paid "hush money" in the form of settlement agreements to keep the dirt quiet. Our community needs to be concerned about EPE’s illegal practices, outsourcing jobs, top heavy management, and electric customer dollars funding out-of-town outsourcers and outrageous executive compensation (see "EE" in Yahoo! Finance for "insider transactions" and top executive pay).

Yeah, and we're all going to have to pay for it eventually. Way to go EPEC.

El Paso is the most racist town I have ever seen.

El Paso Electric has been badly managed and a bad corporate citizen for decades. They are getting exactly what they deserve with this judgement. They have always acted as if they are above the law. This is their comeuppance.

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