Unspoken Rides: Addressing the Pervasive Harassment and Discrimination in America’s Auto Dealerships

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a pervasive issue in auto dealerships throughout America.

The American auto dealership industry, boasting a backbone of shiny cars and robust sales pitches, hides an alarming and corrosive problem under its hood – sexual harassment. Despite being a cornerstone of America’s retail economy, auto dealerships have become notorious battlegrounds for gender respect and workplace equality.

In this probing examination, we will delve deep into the personal stories that shed light on the struggle many female employees face, survey the bleak statistics that run rampant across the industry, and provide concrete steps and resources for those affected by such improper conduct in their workplaces.

Personal Narratives of Harassment

Personal accounts bring the shocking reality of workplace harassment out of the shadows. In a Utah auto dealership, a former employee recounts days filled with anxiety and fear as her supervisor would casually assault female staff members, dealing out demeaning acts like smacks on the buttocks as casually as if he were giving out office memos.

The situation in Texas paints an equally grim picture, with managers at South Austin Nissan openly and relentlessly parading their predatory behavior. Women working there faced an ongoing onslaught of unwanted touching, lewd comments dissecting their appearance, and invasive inquiries into their private lives.

Moving west to San Francisco, the narrative continues with former employees, all women, who weathered unwelcome sexual advances, offensive remarks, and physical contact—all undermining not only their sense of security but their professional worth.

A Statistical Glimpse into the Workplace

Behind these personal stories lies a staggering trail of data:

  • According to the National Women’s Law Center, a harrowing 65% of women in dealership roles have dealt with sexual harassment at their job.
  • An EEOC study alerts us to over 60 official sexual harassment charges filed in the span of eight years, a period where the true scope of the issue likely exceeds recorded figures due to unreported incidents.
  • An Auto News survey tragically indicates that the immense majority—7 out of every 10 women in the dealership industry—experienced a form of sexual harassment.
  • From an occupational health psychology perspective, the non-physical damages are substantial too, resulting in a workplace rife with dissatisfaction, distress, and high turnover rates.

This data paints a sobering picture: the car sales floor, rather than being a place of negotiation and commerce, is often an arena of gender-based violation and abuse.

Stepping Stones to Change

These harrowing accounts and disheartening figures cannot fade into mere statistics. Change is imperative. To catalyze this transformation, advocacy must be a community affair – everyone is a stakeholder in making dealerships safe environments that uphold gender respect and equality. Here’s what can be done:

  • Workplace Policies – Dealerships must institute clear, robust, and non-negotiable policies against harassment, with transparent channels for reporting and addressing complaints.
  • Training Programs – Regular and compulsory training sessions can educate all employees on what constitutes sexual harassment and how to prevent it.
  • Peer Support – Fostering a culture where colleagues support one another and victims don’t feel isolated or helpless.

Legal Recourse and Support Systems

Empower yourself with knowledge and support:

  • EEOC Guidance – Connect with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for advice and action against employment discrimination.
  • Legal ExpertiseA specialized workplace discrimination or harassment attorney can offer legal counsel and potentially represent your case.
  • Law Enforcement – If you’ve been physically harassed or assaulted, contact the local police.
  • Support from Nonprofits – Organizations like the National Women’s Law Center offer legal resources to women facing discrimination and harassment.
  • Community Networks – Join support groups where shared experiences and solidarity can foster recovery and collective action.

Conclusion: Toward a Respectful Workspace

Making our workplaces safe sanctuaries of productivity and respect demands courage, persistence, and unity. If you or someone you know is enduring sexual harassment within an auto dealership or any workplace, remember that silence benefits only the perpetrators. It’s time to revamp the industry not just from a business standpoint but from a foundational perspective that respects and values all employees equally.

Make Dealerships Safe: Advocate for Gender Respect and Equality

Now is the time for action, for support, and for change. Stand up for a harassment-free workplace, and navigate the road ahead with the dignity and equality every person deserves.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Lifeline Protecting Mothers From Workplace Discrimination

Discrimination based on gender stereotypes women with children is illegal. Call gender discrimination lawyers Helmer Friedman LLP.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has been a reliable shield for many employees in the past and continues to hold its significance in our society today. It is a federal law that serves as a powerful weapon against sex discrimination, especially for mothers who are often subject to baseless stereotypes in the workplace.

An example that stands out is the recent case lodged against Walmart by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). As the case revealed, a dedicated employee was denied a well-deserved promotion to a department manager position due to sex stereotypes. The reasons for overlooking her promotion revolved around her young children, implying that she may not be as committed or dedicated to advancing her career. Such stereotypes are exactly what Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 aims to fight against.

“Discriminating against a woman because of stereotypes about working mothers is sex discrimination, plain and simple,” said Gregory Gochanour, the regional attorney for the EEOC’s Chicago District Office. “Women with children deserve the opportunity to be judged fairly in the workplace based on their qualifications and abilities, not on assumptions about their commitment to their careers.”

This landmark legislation not only prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals on the basis of sex, but also race, color, religion, and national origin. The law has been instrumental in protecting mothers from facing discrimination in the workplace. It ensures that they are given equal opportunities for recruitment, hiring, promotion and training.

The settlement follows an earlier ruling by the court rejecting Walmart’s motion to end the case without a trial. The court’s decision on the case highlighted that a promotion decision taken based on sex stereotypes was unjust. The courts referenced a U.S. Supreme Court case that unraveled the harmful sex stereotype presumption — that women are primarily mothers and secondarily workers. This presumption was deemed impermissible and countered the rights provided through Title VII.

The outcome of this lawsuit served as another win for Title VII, with Walmart agreeing to pay a sizable compensation of $60,000 to the aggrieved employee. Further, in an effort to prevent future discrimination, they committed to providing training that focuses on federal laws prohibiting sex discrimination and to report any further complaints to the EEOC.

This case serves as a clear reminder of how vital Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is in ensuring a fair and non-discriminatory playing field for mothers. It eradicates stereotypes, ensuring women are acknowledged for their skills, qualifications, and abilities rather than unfairly judged based on their circumstances. Discrimination against women, particularly rooted in stereotypes of working mothers, is regarded as sex discrimination, and this law serves as a bulwark against it.

INDIGENOUS AMERICAN DISCRIMINATION IN TRAVEL INDUSTRY

Indigenous American discrimination lawyers in Los Angeles.

Incident at Grand Gateway Hotel Highlights the Urgency for Inclusion in the Travel Industry

The Department of Justice recently reached an agreement with the Grand Gateway Hotel in South Dakota. Under this agreement, owner Connie Uhre is barred from any involvement in the company or its subsidiary businesses due to her discriminatory remarks against Indigenous Americans. However, the hotel is now facing fresh allegations of anti-Indigenous practices, this time involving Connie’s son, Nick Uhre. This recent lawsuit is not the Grand Gateway Hotel’s first complaint when it comes to being accused of anti-Indigenous behavior.

One such incident occurred in October when Ryan and Jessica White, a married couple from Wisconsin, saw their reservation canceled upon check-in. They took legal action against the Grand Gateway Hotel and Cheers Sports Lounge and Casino in Rapid City. According to the lawsuit, the Whites made reservations for three rooms through booking agent Travelocity. Jessica, who is white, faced no issues during check-in. However, when Ryan, an Indigenous American, entered the lobby, the employee (believed to be Nick Uhre) refused to process their check-in or honor their reservation.

Despite the Whites’ attempts to provide their confirmation number, the employee refused to acknowledge it or check the hotel’s system. The lawsuit also alleges that the employee yelled at a Travelocity representative to “speak English!” while discussing the reservation. The situation escalated when the employee asked Ryan White to leave the lobby, called security and threatened to involve law enforcement. Feeling threatened and discriminated against, the White family left the hotel and had to make another reservation through Travelocity.

The lawsuit argues that this incident is part of a larger pattern of discrimination by the Grand Gateway Hotel, creating a hostile and unwelcoming environment for Native Americans. Expedia Group, the parent company of Travelocity, has suspended the Grand Gateway Hotel from their platforms while further investigating the travelers’ experience. They have emphasized their zero-tolerance policy towards harassment, violence, and discrimination.

“It is crucial to address incidents of discrimination and foster an inclusive environment for all guests. At Expedia Group, we prioritize the safety and well-being of our customers and will take appropriate action against any form of harassment or discrimination. We stand with our Indigenous community and will continue to support and promote diversity and equality in the travel industry.”

In March 2022, The Daily Beast reported that the former owner of the Grand Gateway Hotel, Connie Uhre, made social media posts suggesting that the hotel would ban all Native Americans from the property following a recent incident. These posts sparked controversy as Connie stated that she couldn’t distinguish between “good” and “bad” Native Americans. However, Nick Uhre, speaking to South Dakota Public Broadcasting, clarified that Indigenous Americans are not banned from staying at the hotel.

Following these events, the NDN Collective, an Indigenous activist organization based in South Dakota, filed a complaint against the hotel, Connie Uhre, and Nick Uhre for explicit racial discrimination. As if the social media comments weren’t enough, Connie was arrested and charged with three counts of assault in May 2022 for allegedly spraying cleaning solutions at Indigenous Americans protesting outside the hotel.

In October 2022, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the hotel for civil rights violations. The DOJ settled the case on November 11, 2023, demanding that Connie Uhre be removed from her position for four years and that the hotel and its owners issue a public apology specifically to tribal organizations in South Dakota and the Great Plains region. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland emphasized that the defendants’ actions were reminiscent of a long history of prejudice and exclusion faced by Native American communities.

The White family, who were involved in the incident, have filed a lawsuit seeking a trial by jury and financial relief.

Content derived from writing and reporting by Brooke Leigh Howard.

WORKERS SAY THEY FACED DISCRIMINATION WORKING FOR THE CHICAGO UTILITY

Peoples Gas accused of racial discrimination by several employees.

Nearly a Dozen Former and Current Peoples Gas Workers Say in the Federal Lawsuit that the Company Racially Discriminated Against Black Employees in the Chicago Area

Letitia Jackson was excited about her job at one of the state’s largest utility companies, where few other professionals of color worked.

“For me to be the face of a Black woman that could say I know how to do construction, I know how to do piping,” Jackson said. “I was really proud of that and to say that I work at Peoples Gas — that was something I was proud of.”

But her aspirations of climbing the ranks of Peoples Gas fizzled as she started experiencing a culture she and other workers say discriminates against employees of color. She’s among 11 former and current Peoples Gas employees who filed a federal lawsuit against Peoples Gas, saying that non-Black workers sexualize workers and customers of color and face racial slurs.

According to the lawsuit, Peoples Gas assigned Black workers to an area that includes the South Side, and they frequently get assigned to jobs in neighborhoods without security where some have faced attacks. The workers also allege that the company did not address concerns about workplace racism and hazards.

Peoples Gas said the accusations aren’t true.

“We adamantly deny the allegations made by these individuals, including the extreme and false claims of racial bias, and will vigorously defend the suit. We provide a workplace with equal opportunities for all employees, including a long-standing unionized field workforce,” the utility stated.

During Jackson’s time with the company, she endured comments from coworkers about her clothes and speculation about what she would do for money, according to the lawsuit. It was part of a pattern other workers reported experiencing. One worker said coworkers speculated about his sex life because he is a Black man, while others heard fellow employees make sexual comments about Black customers.

Garland Eleby, another plaintiff, remembers on his first day of work hearing a white coworker using a racial slur.

“Nobody flinched,” said Eleby, who still works for Peoples Gas. “Nobody looked up or asked, ‘Hey, what’s wrong with you?’ Nothing. It rolled off the tongue like he said it every day.”

In addition to placing a more significant proportion of its Black employees in the South Side service area, the company also places them in communities with higher rates of crime. The lawsuit describes how current and former employees have been the victims of attacks, robberies, and attempted robberies.

Eleby claimed that after being assigned to work in an area overnight where a car wreck had disrupted service, he and several coworkers were robbed at gunpoint a little over a year into his career. He claimed that later, they had to remain in the same location for six or seven hours.

“I was really upset,” Eleby said. “I was disgusted. It was like we got sent into a battle with no proper gear or anything. It was just like no regard for how we felt.”

Recalling a shooting she saw while on the job, Jackson said, left her so shaken up that she drove in reverse.

When I returned to the shop, my supervisor only offered me a hot dog,” she said. “I am crying, bawling in tears, wanting to go home, and I was told, well, you’ll have to use your own [paid time off] to go home.”

Letitia Jackson, a former Peoples Gas employee, is among nearly a dozen former and current employees filing a federal lawsuit against the company over alleged safety and racial discrimination.

In a written statement, Peoples Gas said it utilizes private security and works with the Chicago police to support the safety of employees when deemed appropriate.

The lawsuit says discriminatory practices for Black employees affected overtime, promotions, and discipline.

“I just want to come to work and do my job,” said Towns, who has returned to Peoples Gas. “Do the best job that I could possibly do and just go home. I hate to have to be the person here to bring light to this particular situation, but it’s inevitable.”

Jason Towns, who’s one of those suing, said he thinks racism played a role in his termination in 2022. He was part of a crew that damaged an underground service line, but Towns said his white coworker was not disciplined.

It’s one of the reasons why Towns said he felt compelled to speak out after seeking other avenues of change with no results.

“I just want to come to work and do my job,” said Towns, who has returned to Peoples Gas. “Do the best job that I could possibly do and just go home. I hate to have to be the person here to bring light to this particular situation, but it’s inevitable.”

Based on reporting by Elvia Malagón.

RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION AND RETALIATION LAWSUIT – TRIPLE CANOPY, INC. TO PAY $110,759

Religious discrimination, retaliation for refusing accommodation for employees beard.

Government Contractor Settles Federal Lawsuit Alleging It Failed to Provide Religious Accommodations and Retaliated Against Employee

Summary:

  • Triple Canopy, a Virginia-based company providing protective services to federal agencies, will pay a former employee $110,759 and provide other relief to settle a religious discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
  • Triple Canopy denied a religious accommodation to an employee who held a Christian belief that men must wear beards because the employee was unable to provide additional substantiation of his beliefs or a supporting statement from a certified or documented religious leader.
  • The EEOC filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.
  • Under a three-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit, in addition to monetary relief for the affected employee, Triple Canopy will institute and disseminate a new religious accommodation policy; provide training on religious discrimination and retaliation; and report to the EEOC quarterly on any complaints of religious discrimination and retaliation.

Triple Canopy, Inc., a company based in Reston, Virginia that provides protective services to federal agencies, has settled a religious discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) by agreeing to pay a former employee $110,759 and provide other relief, as announced by the agency.

“Title VII broadly defines religion; it applies not only to mainstream religious beliefs that are part of a formal religious group, but also to all aspects of an individual’s religious observance, practice, and belief. When religion conflicts with a work requirement, employers must provide an accommodation unless doing so would cause an undue hardship.”

The EEOC’s lawsuit claims that Triple Canopy refused to provide a religious accommodation to an employee who believed that men must wear beards due to their Christian faith because the employee was unable to provide additional evidence of his beliefs or a statement from a certified or documented religious leader. The lawsuit also stated that Triple Canopy retaliated against the employee by subjecting him to intolerable working conditions that resulted in his constructive discharge.

The alleged behavior is in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which mandates that employers accommodate sincerely held religious beliefs unless doing so would result in undue hardship and prohibits retaliation against anyone who complains about discrimination. The EEOC filed the lawsuit (EEOC v. Triple Canopy, Inc., Civil Action No.1:23-cv-1500) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its voluntary conciliation process.

“This lawsuit raised serious issues of discrimination and retaliation. We are pleased that Triple Canopy was willing to agree to an early resolution that will compensate the affected former employee and also improve its handling of religious accommodation requests going forward.”

Under a three-year consent decree resolving the lawsuit, in addition to monetary relief for the affected employee, Triple Canopy will create and disseminate a new religious accommodation policy, provide training on religious discrimination and retaliation, and report quarterly to the EEOC on any claims of religious discrimination and retaliation.

Debra M. Lawrence, the EEOC’s Philadelphia Regional Attorney, stated, “This lawsuit raised serious issues of discrimination and retaliation. We are pleased that Triple Canopy was willing to agree to an early resolution that will compensate the affected former employee and also improve its handling of religious accommodation requests going forward.”

Mindy E. Weinstein, director of the EEOC’s Washington Field Office, stated, “Title VII broadly defines religion; it applies not only to mainstream religious beliefs that are part of a formal religious group, but also to all aspects of an individual’s religious observance, practice, and belief. When religion conflicts with a work requirement, employers must provide an accommodation unless doing so would cause an undue hardship.”

ResourceOne Sued for Harassment Based on Genetic Information, Race, National Origin

Hostile Work Environment | Workplace bullying attorneys Helmer Friedman LLP.

EEOC Charges Printing Distribution Company Supervisor Called Employee ‘Ape,’ ‘Congo,’ and Other Slurs After Viewing DNA Results

A printing distribution company in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is facing charges of racial and national origin discrimination after a supervisor allegedly harassed an employee with derogatory slurs like “ape” and “Congo” upon learning about her DNA ancestry results. The commercial printing, direct mail, and direct marketing company, Worldwide Printing and Distribution, Inc., doing business as ResourceOne, is accused of violating the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by creating a hostile work environment for the employee and failing to take corrective action despite her repeated complaints.

The incident highlights the importance of protecting employees from discrimination and harassment based on their genetic information, national origin, or race. It is essential for employers to foster a safe and inclusive workplace free from offensive name-calling and slurs that can create a toxic work environment. As more people choose to learn about their ancestry through DNA testing, it is crucial to ensure that this information is not misused to create an unlawful environment at work.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a lawsuit against Worldwide Printing and Distribution, Inc., seeking monetary relief for the victim and an order prohibiting similar discrimination and harassment in the workplace. The EEOC emphasizes the need for employers to protect their workers from all forms of harassment and discrimination, including those based on genetic information, national origin, and race.

Racial Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit Against Riverwalk Post-Acute Settled

Race harassment is illegal discrimination.

A skilled nursing facility in California, Riverwalk Post-Acute, has agreed to pay $865,000 to settle a racial harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC alleged that the facility continually allowed black employees to be subjected to racial harassment by residents, co-workers, and a supervisor, including frequent and offensive race-based remarks and slurs since 2018.  The EEOC claimed that the facility’s management failed to respond adequately to multiple complaints of harassment, instead telling employees to tolerate the abuse. The settlement also includes injunctive relief aimed at preventing workplace harassment and retaliation, which includes retaining an EEO monitor, reviewing and revising policies and procedures on discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, creating a structure for employees to report discrimination and harassment, and providing training on anti-discrimination laws.