An assistant store manager at America's Best Contacts and Eyeglasses in Slidell claims she was subjected to race and sex discrimination after a new store manager introduced himself as a "redneck."

Pinky Sparks filed suit against National Vision Inc., doing business as America's Best Contacts and Eyeglasses, Aug. 3 in federal court in New Orleans.

Sparks claims the problems began in March 2008 directly after Ben Ramsey, a Caucasian man, was hired as general manager.

According to her complaint, on Ramsey's first day as manager, he introduced himself to the workers by stating, "I am the new sheriff in the store and I am a redneck."

Sparks states she and other employees were subjected to harassment after complaining of Ramsey's inappropriate comments. A

fter several confrontational incidents, Sparks filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in May 2008. Two months later, Sparks was placed under a 30-day performance improvement plan and when the 30 days were up, Sparks' employment was terminated from after 12 year with the company.

Sparks argues she was terminated and harassed because of her race and gender. She accuses the company of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Sparks is seeking damages for back pay, interest, bonuses, pension, other lost benefits, front pay, compensatory damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, loss of reputation, embarrassment, humiliation, punitive damages, costs and attorney fees. She is also asking the court to permanently enjoin the defendant from continued unlawful practices.

Sparks is represented by New Orleans attorney James L. Arruebarrena, Victor R. Farrugia and Rachel Martin-Deckelmann.

A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Lance M. Africk is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:10cv02372

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