CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A former city employee and his attorney have now filed a civil lawsuit against the city of Corpus Christi alleging age discrimination.
The collective action complaint was filed this week in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas Corpus Christi Division.
The Lawsuit was filed on behalf of 47-year-old Rudy Bentancourt, who claimed the city did not pay him his full unused sick time when he retired in February.
Bentancourt believes this same thing could have happened to others.
After serving almost twenty years with the city, Bentancourt retired from his position as the director of housing and community development.
The lawsuit states Bentancourt had around 528 hours of unused sick time saved up. He had planned to cash out this allocated time when he retired.
"That ordinance basically said you get 100 percent of your time up to a certain amount, up to 700 something hours," Bentancourt said.
Additionally, when choosing to notify the city about his desire to cash out his sick time, Bentancourt claimed he was only allowed to receive half of his accumulated hours.
The amount is equivalent to fifteen thousand dollars that Bentancourt said he is still owed.
“It felt really unjust because that was time I earned,” Bentancourt said.
Chapter 39, Article 3, of the City’s Code of Ordinances states in part, that an employee will be eligible for payment of up to 720 hours of accumulated sick leave credit.
Without any resolution, Bentancourt turned to Gale Law Firm Attorney, Christopher Gale for assistance.
"We occasionally gotten calls from people who were concerned kind of in which the manor they were retiring and being treated," Gale said.
In the complaint, Bentancourt was advised that his payout for sick leave would be “The way the ordinance has always been interpreted,”.
"If you read the ordinance, it seems pretty clear that he is able to bank it, and when he retires, that you are able to be compensated for those hours you otherwise didn't utilize. and this seems pretty clear,” Gale said.
According to Gale after bringing his concerns to light, the city went back and changed the wording of the ordinance.
"Basically, a cleanup ordinance to help clarify the language of sick leave as it states upon termination, over a period of 10 years there were different addons and things that jumbled the language,” said the city's human resources director during the August 10, 2021 city council meeting.
The measure passed with the added text, 'at the rate of 50 percent'.
Furthermore, Gale believes more retirees may have been impacted by this similar situation.
"Begs the question why did you change it if you thought it was so clear,” Gale said.
After reaching out to the city for a comment, 3 News received an email reply stating "The Texas State Bar rules of ethics generally prohibits attorneys from commenting on pending litigation."
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