DENVER – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Thursday filed a lawsuit against a Golden car dealership, claiming officers and employees were discriminated against against others employed because of their gender and race.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Colorado, claims that Christopher’s Dodge Ram violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 when the rulers repeatedly made sexual comments and acted towards women and men. employees, used racial slurs against employees of color, and fired employees in retaliation after employees filed complaints about the alleged conduct of managers.
The lawsuit was filed more than a year after the EEOC sent the company a letter, in September 2020, that there were reasonable grounds to believe the dealership had violated Title VII. Efforts to reconcile the cases did not result in a resolution, and in July, the EEOC informed the company “that the reconciliation efforts had failed.”
The discriminatory charges relate to a woman who claims to have been sexually harassed throughout her job at Christopher’s Dodge Ram and who says she was fired because she is female, and she also details other cases involving other employees who have reported experiencing discrimination and harassment based on their race or gender.
The former employee who is the party in charge, Katrina Schmidt, was hired by the dealership in November 2017 and, according to the lawsuit, an official put her arm around her neck and pressed her genital area against her chair. and his office. caught by an employee, was labeled “c —” and “b —-” and asked a manager to make repeated references to her sex life.
One of the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Jaime Guerra, told Denver on Friday7 that working at Christopher’s Dodge was a constant barrage of sexual comments and gestures.
“There were times when I would just get up to go to the bathroom and they would hiss at me,” Guerra said. “Sometimes I just didn’t want to get up and go to the bathroom.”
And then, she said, there was an incident in the archive room downstairs in Christopher’s Dodge. She says she was cornered by a manager.
“I was completely shaken and in disbelief by what had happened,” Guerra said. “But I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it because he was actually the owner’s son. I really needed the job at the time. I had a family to support.”
When approached at the dealership on Friday afternoon, management declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Mary Jo O’Neill, the regional prosecutor for the EEOC Phoenix district office, said the case had made him gasp.
“This case and its severity are similar to the cases I brought back in the 1980s. I feel like we haven’t moved the needle a millimeter, and it’s depressing. What I think is good is that young people express themselves more and are not going to tolerate it, ”she said.
The lawsuit claims the dealership’s general manager told Schmidt a year after he was hired that he would not hire another woman and that she could not apply for a CFO position because “women are too dramatic “. He also states that she was sanctioned for the same type of conduct her male colleagues engaged in without any consequences.
The lawsuit says the dealership manager filed a complaint against him for the alleged improper touching just before Schmidt was hired and berated him, but started harassing Schmidt right after he was hired. When she continued to complain about her conduct and that of others, she was laughed at and management took no action, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit says she was granted permission in January 2019 to take her hour-long lunch break and returned in less than an hour, but an official angrily asked where she was and has him. dismissed. The next day, according to the lawsuit, the manager who fired her said he had “fired the only side,” according to the EEOC. After that, the management of the concession “agreed that [the dealership] should no longer hire female sales representatives, ”the lawsuit alleges.
But the EEOC says these kinds of actions and beliefs were ubiquitous at the dealership. He says a manager suggested he would pay an employee for sex, asked an employee to send him nude photos and made unwanted comments about the penis and other physical features of a black employee. He adds that the director of human resources ogled the women who worked there and that another employee saw a manager looking at pornography on his computer.
In addition, the black male employee was the subject of racist comments, including being referred to as the n-word, and other sexually suggestive comments and actions from a manager, the EEOC claims. He and others also reported the conduct to human resources, according to the lawsuit, which indicates that the conduct directed against both female and male employees “was serious enough or pervasive enough to alter the terms and conditions of employment of employees subject to the bullying”.
Black and Latino / Hispanic employees have also been the subject of racist comments, including being called the N word, “my Mexican friend” and “b —- r” by managers and other employees, according to the lawsuit – some of which was also reported to human resources.
Some of the employees who filed complaints with human resources were fired soon after, according to the lawsuit. A woman was fired a month after reporting sexual harassment in June 2018; Schmidt was told to “shut her mouth” and “shut her up” and was told she would be fired if she complained again, according to the lawsuit.
“I want to be heard and I think it’s important that they know it’s not right,” Guerra said. “And women too. We should stand up for ourselves and say it’s not right.
The lawsuit alleges that the company discriminated against men and women based on their gender, that employees were discriminated against because of their race or national origin, and that employees were discriminated against when they were fired in because of their gender and have suffered retaliation for reporting the unwelcome behavior. .
The lawsuit asks a judge to issue permanent injunctions prohibiting the dealership from discriminating and retaliatory in its employment practices, forcing the dealership to provide equal employment opportunities and to “eradicate the effects” of its illegal practices.
He also asks the company to grant Schmidt retroactive payment, contingent upfront payment, and other pecuniary, non-pecuniary and punitive measures for the alleged discriminatory actions against him.
“It’s very blatant conduct,” O’Neill said. “That people have to put up with this just to make a living is simply unacceptable. “