Toyota dealership settles discrimination suit

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A Calif. Toyota dealership has spattered its reputation with alleged discriminatory actions. Image: twicepix/Flickr/CC BY-SA

A federal discrimination suit against a Northern California Toyota dealership has been settled. The suit alleged that a general manager used racial slurs against several former employees of Afghan descent.

Toyota dealership agrees to pay

As reported by CBS Atlanta, a Toyota dealership located in Fremont, Calif. last week agreed to pay out $400,000.

Threats and racial slurs

The suit accuses a former general manager at Fremont Toyota of threatening to blow up four Afghan-American salesmen with a grenade and calling then “terrorists” during a board meeting in 2007.

Harassment based on nationality is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

One of the former Afghan-American employees, Mohammad Sawary, later remarked on the irony of having his loyalty, and that of his colleagues, questioned:

“The irony of this matter is that, after being labeled ‘terrorists’ at our old job, most of us found work with the U.S. military serving in Afghanistan protecting U.S. soldiers from the terrorists.”

Former employees

The four salesmen reported the abuse and say they were verbally harassed and met with greater job scrutiny for doing so. This eventually prompted them to leave Fremont Toyota.

Additionally, an Afghan American manager who complained about the treatment of the salesmen was fired.

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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the suit on behalf of the former employees. The EEOC is a federal watchdog  for employment discrimination.

EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo said:

“We hope this case clearly signals that the civil rights laws of this country protect everyone from illegal discrimination, regardless of their national origin.”

According to San Francisco’s EEOC District Director Michael Baldonado, the largest Afghan population outside of Afghanistan is in California’s Bay Area.

He said:

“We hope this settlement makes more people in the Afghan community aware  of their rights and how the EEOC can protect them as we continue our outreach  to under-served communities.”

The agency also reported that, as part of the settlement, Fremont Toyota must educate its employees and managers on discrimination.

The current manager of Fremont Toyota and his lawyers have declined to comment on the matter. However, one wonders why the EEOC went after the dealership alone, a dealer of cars and vehicle loans, and not the unnamed former general manager. He is, after all, the one accused of making the offensive remarks in the first place.


CBS Atlanta
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Union City Patch

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