By Jen Kastner
ODESSA- An Odessan says she was fired from her job at UPS simply because she happens to be a woman. Now, she's suing. The trial starts Tuesday morning at the Midland Federal Courthouse.
Amber Ibarra spent more than five years as the only female driver at the Odessa UPS Package Center.
"It's been a very long roller coaster," she said.
"There was definitely an environment that was hostile to women," Ibarra's attorney, Holly Williams, said.
Williams says Ibarra endured hellish relationships with the men she worked around at UPS. She describes the facility as having debilitating overtones of sexist mentality, which eventually cost Ibarra everything.
"When I lost my job, they took my livelihood away from me. [They took] my career," Ibarra said.
According to the lawsuit, one male coworker repeatedly subjected her to offensive comments. On one occasion, he even paged her while she was with her mother and when she called him back, she claims he asked her to perform oral sex on him.
Williams says, "You can imagine how humiliating that would be."
That same man, she says, would routinely call her a "[expletive] imbecile" and a "[expletive] idiot."
"Obviously that's just horrifying," Williams said.
Ibarra and a few other female coworkers complained to management, and that male coworker was eventually terminated, but Ibarra says it subsequently led several male employees to retaliate against her.
The lawsuit lists a group of male employees who "do not want women in the workplace because they perceive that men are stronger, quicker, and faster than women, and women are weaker, slower, and have menstrual periods."
Comments about female employees' menstrual periods, we're told, were common. Those comments were graphic and we're told they happened multiple times on a daily basis.
"When you're leaving the UPS office, at this point, and you're out on the road, you're thinking about this stuff all day. It's unsafe because you're upset thinking about how they're kind of setting you up to fail," Ibarra said.
"We're told that women were given extra loads and more packages to deliver and heavier packages, just to give them a 'hard time'," Williams said.
Ibarra says she believes the sex discrimination she endured for so long eventually led to her termination.
It was in the area of 42nd Street and Golder Avenue where Ibarra got into an accident while driving the company truck.
"She hopped a curb and ran into a telephone pole. She was not injured. It was a single-vehicle accident," Williams said.
The accident eventually resulted in Ibarra's termination. She fought back, even taking her dispute to the Union but the decision to terminate was upheld.
The lawsuit references a handful of other male UPS employees who reportedly found themselves in far worse vehicle accidents while driving company trucks but still managed to continue working at the Odessa UPS Package Center.
One man, referenced in the lawsuit, "was involved in an accident involving five vehicles and one fatality" and another man referenced, "fell asleep, ran over and wrecked into a parked car on a highway."
Ibarra is suing for sex discrimination and seeking damages for the money lost during the ordeal and all the emotional stress she says she was put through.