Ex-director sues Housing Authority for firing

The former executive director of the Edinburg Housing Authority has filed a lawsuit against the agency claiming wrongful termination.

Rodolfo Ramirez served as director of the housing authority for over seven years before being terminated on Dec. 17 at a housing authority commission meeting. According to the lawsuit filed last week, commissioners — who are listed as defendants in the suit — voted to terminate Ramirez due to “past and present matters that no longer have any relevance in regards to his employment.”

Meeting minutes show that at each executive session since a Sept. 25 meeting, the commission discussed “personnel issues” with their attorney, and on their Nov. 7 meeting the board discussed results of an internal audit by Luis Orozco, a certified public accountant. Later, the commission updated its credit card policy.

The commission evaluated Ramirez at a Nov. 20 meeting, and on Dec. 17 unanimously voted to terminate him.

According to the meeting minutes, commissioner Gabriel Salinas said Ramirez was terminated due to “failure to perform required duties and willful violation of federal laws and regulations; specifically proven incompetence and serious repeated failures that have placed the agency and its residents in jeopardy of losing federal funding for housing.”

Ramirez was removed from all bank accounts and his responsibilities were passed to Richard Christian, the housing authority’s finance director. The EHA’s attorney, Rebecca Vela, was motioned to continue the “in-house investigation from the present and past.”

Vela told The Monitor the EHA did not have any comment on pending litigation. An independent contractor who’s been with the housing authority since September, Vela has mediated public information requests from The Monitor regarding documents pertaining to Ramirez’s performance and termination since December. Those documents have not been obtained as of press time.

Ramirez is suing the housing authority for up to $500,000. His attorney, Reynaldo Ortiz, said Ramirez did not receive any letter detailing the reason for his termination. According to the lawsuit, the Texas Workforce Commission granted Ramirez unemployment benefits citing that he was fired “for a reason that was not misconduct connected with the work.”

Additionally, the lawsuit argues that the housing authority breached its contract with Ramirez, which was set to expire in April 2021.

The lawsuit was filed in the 92nd District Court and a trial date has yet to be determined.