NEW ORLEANS - The vice-chancellor of the Consulate General of Spain in Houston has filed an age discrimination lawsuit that claims he was forced into retirement.

Gerardo D. Abascal filed suit against The Consulate General of Spain in Houston, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain and the Kingdom of Spain on July 27 in federal court in New Orleans.

Abascal was locally hired by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain as an employee for its Consulate General of Spain in New Orleans in 1969. He worked continuously for the Ministry until Jan. 5, 2011, the suit claims.

Sometime in 2009, the Ministry decided to close the Consulate General of Spain in New Orleans, but keep its entire locally hired staff on the payroll until Sept. 30, 2010. At that time, he was reassigned as vice-chancellor of the Consulate General of Spain in Houston with residence in New Orleans and given identical compensation and benefits.

After his dismissal in 2011, Abascal was unable to find comparable employment, he claims.

The lawsuit states that the Ministry knew that forced retirement is prohibited in the United States. Abascal had previously informed his local superiors that he did not want to retire until he reached 75 years of age.

The defendants are accused of violating the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

The plaintiff is asking for an award of damages, interest, and court costs.

Abascal is represented by Metairie attorney John A. Occhipinti.

U.S. District Judge Martin L.C. Feldman is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:12-cv-01961

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