Ex-Texans GM Brian Gaine Accused of Targeting, Firing African American Employees

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJune 13, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 27: Brian Gaine general manager of the Houston Texans is seen at the 2019 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 28, 2019 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Former Houston Texans security coordinator Jeff Pope filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging Brian Gaine, the team's general manager until he was dismissed last week, "targeted" African Americans when firing employees during his tenure.

"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, who is African American, wrote in a complaint obtained by A.J. Perez of USA Today. Pope listed eight other black employees fired since Gaine was hired in January 2018.

The Texans released a statement to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle denying the discrimination allegations and stating the organization wasn't aware of the complaint when it fired Gaine.

"We have just been made aware of Mr. Pope's claim," the team said. "We do not comment on pending litigation. The Houston Texans do not tolerate personal or professional discrimination of any kind."

Pope's attorney, N. Lucy Chukwurah, told Wilson she disputed the Texans' stance because the team's legal counsel had become aware of the complaint in the days before Gaine was fired.

"I was going to handle this the way I handle most of my claims: quietly. When the Texans terminated Mr. Gaine, that caught my attention," she said. "They terminated him a few days after they spoke with their counsel. I found that to be unusual."

Pope was hired by the Texans in 2017 and said the atmosphere among minority employees changed after Gaine joined the organization last year, per Perez.

"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 said in the complaint.

Chukwurah explained to the Houston Chronicle her client "really wanted to continue" his job with the Texans and is currently unemployed.

Team chairman Cal McNair announced the decision to fire Gaine on Friday:

"After a thorough evaluation of our football operations, we have decided to relieve Brian Gaine of his duties as general manager. Brian is a man of high character and we appreciate his contributions to our organization. We will begin an immediate search for a new GM.

"In the interim, football operations will be led by senior vice president of football administration Chris Olsen. While the timing may be unusual, this decision was made in the best interest of our organization in our quest to build a championship team for the City of Houston."

It's rare for an organization to fire a general manager after allowing him to handle the key offseason decisions in free agency and the draft. But Houston became the second team to do it this year, joining the New York Jets, who fired Mike Maccagnan in mid-May.

Meanwhile, the New England Patriots filed tampering charges against the Texans on Wednesday, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. The case is related to the attempted hire of Nick Caserio, who is under contract with the Pats as their director of player personnel.