ODESSA, Texas (Nexstar)- A former employee of Office Depot has filed suit against the company saying she was forced to go outside of the building during the Odessa mass shooting in August of 2019.
According to a statement released by the Houston based NLC Law Group, managers at the Office Depot on 42nd Street told the employee, identified as Sara Luebano, that she needed to go outside and ask police what was happening after word of a shooter began to spread.
The release says around 4:00 p.m. on August 31, 2019, another employee, who had just returned from lunch, told workers there was a shooter in the area. Luebano told her attorney she then received a call from her manager asking if there were police in the area. The law group’s statement says Luebano told her manager police were in the parking lot with guns drawn. Following that call, Luebano said she received another call from a different manager who told her to go into the parking lot to find out what was happening. “You want me to walk outside?” Luebano asked. According to attorneys, the manager told Luebano, “Yes, I’ll stay on the phone with you.”
According to the release, when Luebano approached police, an officer told her there was a serious situation with an active shooter and that she needed to go back inside the store and lock the door.
Luebano told the law group she received conflicting directives from management about whether she should close the store. According to Luebano, she, along with other employees and customers hid in the store until later that evening.
The release goes on to say after the events of that day, Luebano reached out to human resources in September of 2019 to voice her concerns about being asked to step outside during the event as well as the lack of assistance from her supervisors.
Luebano said in October of 2019, she was put on a Performance Improvement Plan even though she had never been disciplined in her three years of employment. Luebano was eventually let go in January of 2021 after going on medical leave in June of 2020.
The lawsuit against Office Depot accuses the company of retaliation, interference of the Family Medical Leave Act, and discrimination. Luebano is seeking “all remedies afforded under federal and state law”.