What happens when a general manager of a car dealership calls his Afghan-American employees “terrorists” during a staff meeting while threatening violence himself?
The car dealership ends up writing a big check to those disparaged, in this case it was $400,000.00, and gets bad publicity.
This was not a case filed under FEHA, but it could have been. Instead, the plaintiffs went through the EEOC who filed a lawsuit on their behalf in the United States District Court, Northern District of California alleging a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
According to the complaint, Fremont Toyota’s general manager and others called the plaintiffs “terrorists,” threatened to blow them up with a grenade and yelled and cussed at them. The workplace became so hostile, that the plaintiffs had to quit.
Add to this a retaliation claim. One of the plaintiffs, another Afghan-American who was also a manager, complained to Fremont Toyota’s general manager and finance manager/director. Instead of an investigation, Fremont Toyota fired the complainant.
Not very smart.
The EEOC contacted the dealership and attempted conciliation. Instead, Fremont Toyota apparently thought it better to pay probably thousands and thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees to fight the allegations, which prompted EEOC to file the complaint.
Ultimately, Fremont Toyota settled, with the following terms:
- Payment of $400,000 to plaintiffs
- Training for all managers
- Post a Notice regarding the lawsuit at their business location
- Report to the EEOC for three years to show compliance
Now that’s an expensive lesson.
The moral of this story is to simply behave. And if you’re a defense attorney and you have a client who didn’t behave, work to get the case settled promptly.
Here, Fremont Toyota apparently thought it best to drag this matter out, become the target of a lawsuit, and then settle, which only brings them bad publicity and makes them look foolish.
Just think….if they’d only investigated the allegations and then fired the dumb ol’ general manager, none of this would have happened!