Augusta Car Dealer Subjected Black Sales Manager to Racial Abuse, Agency Charges
ATLANTA – In a race discrimination lawsuit filed today, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged that a GM Pontiac-Buick car dealership committed racial discrimination at its Augusta, Ga., location. The EEOC charged that a white male management consultant subjected an African American sales manager to a racially hostile work environment over a four-month period.
According to the EEOC’s lawsuit against S&H Thomson, Inc., doing business as Stokes-Hodges GM Pontiac Buick, the white consultant visited the GM Pontiac Buick location three to four times a week and never missed an opportunity to make racially derogatory comments towards the black sales manager. The man was subjected to humiliating and degrading comments every time the consultant visited the GM Pontiac Buick dealership and almost always in the presence of other people. In one instance, the consultant said to the black manager who was conducting training at the time “Come here n----r; get me some coffee, n----r.” This offending conduct occurred in front of approximately nine salespeople and managers, the EEOC said.
The victim complained to the employer about the offensive conduct, but the discrimination continued until the end of the black sales manager’s employment. The EEOC charged that the employer failed to take prompt remedial action designed to stop the harassment, as required by federal law.
Race discrimination violates Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The federal agency seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the harmed employee, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent such discrimination in the future.
“This is an outrageous case where an African American employee was subjected to humiliating and degrading behavior,” said Bernice Kimbrough, district director for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office.
Robert Dawkins, regional attorney for the Atlanta District Office, said, “This is an example of severe and pervasive acts of racial harassment which no employee should be allowed to endure. The EEOC is committed to taking action to eliminate this type of misbehavior from the workplace.”
During Fiscal Year 2008, the EEOC received 33,937 race discrimination charge filings, up 11 percent from the prior year. Of the total, approximately 8,600 race charges alleged racial harassment, up 23 percent from nearly 7,000 such filings in FY 2007.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.