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Car Dealer Sued for Race Discrimination Over Taunting of Employee’s Skin Color

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is suing Autos of Dallas because the car retailer purportedly subjected its employee, Jonathon Sellers, to a hostile work environment.

Sellers worked as a car salesman for the company, which sells luxury cars in Plano, Texas. Sellers is a Black man. He alleges management called him to the front of the room at a December 2019 holiday party. They then handed him a trophy for being the employee “Least Likely to Be Seen in the Dark.” He found this award “profoundly offensive.” When he complained to the general manager, the manager responded by saying the trophy was a joke. Management did not respond to his concerns. When Sellers returned to work after the party, his co-workers teased him about the award. One employee commented Sellers should smile so that he can be seen in the dimly lit parts of the dealership. The environment became intolerable to Sellers; he felt forced to resign.

The EEOC filed suit under Title VII, alleging race discrimination and a hostile work environment. Attempts by the EEOC to reach a settlement through the conciliation process were unsuccessful. The EEOC asserted that racist objects like the trophy given to Sellers should not be part of the workplace, and the company failed to take prompt and remedial action to remedy the situation. Autos of Dallas responded to the lawsuit, claiming it was “without legal merit.” They claim to have investigated the allegations and could not substantiate them. The company further asserted it does not discriminate.