Pride Houston is suing its former executive director Lorin “Lo” Roberts. Harris County District Court has granted the LGBTQ organization a temporary restraining order and injunction against Roberts, which is currently in effect.
Pride Houston and its president, Thasia Madison, filed a complaint against Roberts in Harris County District Court on July 2, alleging that Roberts had destroyed Pride Houston’s assets and property and continued to act as its agent after being terminated. The plaintiffs are alleging breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract and non-compete solicitation, fraud, and theft.
According to the filings, Roberts was employed as the executive director of Pride Houston (the organization’s only paid position) from March 2020 to June 2021. Prior to being appointed to that position, Roberts served as the organization’s board president from 2017 to 2020.
In her new role as executive director, Roberts was required to relinquish her role as president and turn over Pride Houston assets that are under the president’s control—bank accounts, credit cards, social media accounts, email accounts, and the organization’s website. The lawsuit states that Roberts was terminated for violating the terms of her employment agreement for 15 months, during which time Madison and other board members were hindered in carrying out their duties.
The plaintiffs further allege that on the day of her termination, Roberts began to destroy Pride Houston’s assets and property, including the organization’s Google Drive account, cloud storage, bank accounts, and vendor sponsorship agreements. They also claim that Roberts “leaked” confidential information and entered into vendor and sponsor agreements on behalf of Pride Houston following her termination.
Pride Houston, which typically hosts Space City’s downtown LGBTQ festival and parade every summer, claims that Roberts’ behavior began in 2018 after the City of Houston informed her that Pride Houston would need to modify its downtown parade route and festival location in future years. According to the lawsuit, Roberts had acknowledged receiving that letter.
During a planning meeting for the 2020 celebration, Roberts allegedly told board members that festival permitting had been secured from the City, but that City officials had purposefully not confirmed the parade route and festival location because the City was “discriminatory of Pride Houston’s LGBTQIA-oriented mission and purpose.” A board member later contacted a City official to request a formal explanation, and the City replied with a copy of the 2018 letter showing that Roberts had known about the need to revise the parade route and festival location for about two years.
The lawsuit also states that Roberts told board members that she had secured a City permit for the 2021 celebration. The organization claims that they later discovered Roberts had received a letter from the City stating that Pride Houston had been denied a permit for a downtown celebration. Three days after Roberts’ termination, the City approved a new location for Pride Houston’s 2021 celebration, the organization claims.
Finally, the plaintiffs state that Roberts used Pride Houston funds for travel unrelated to the organization in December 2020 and hid these expenses from board members. The organization requires all fund-disbursement requests to be authorized by the board of directors, and requests are approved only for budgeted items.
In addition to the temporary restraining order and injunction that Pride Houston was granted, the organization also seeks a permanent injunction, monetary relief, a trial by jury, and other remedies.
This is a developing story. This post will be updated as additional information becomes available.
For more information on this lawsuit, go here.