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PRESS RELEASE
9-29-11

EEOC Sues Autonation on Behalf of German and Polish Workers

Federal Agency Alleges National Origin Harassment in Service Center

PHOENIX -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced that it is suing AN Luxury Imports of Tucson, Inc. and Autonation USA Corp. for subjecting two employees to harassment based upon their national origin, German and Polish, respectively. The dealership allowed its managers and employees to routinely make derogatory comments about the employees’ national origin.

The EEOC’s lawsuit, EEOC v. AN Luxury Imports of Tucson, Inc. and Autonation USA Corp. CIV-11-00617-PHX-FRZ, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, was brought on behalf of German and Polish male service technicians at a BMW dealership in Tucson, Ariz. The lawsuit alleges that Autonation employees, including management, routinely called Joachim Bannes, who is German, a “Nazi” and a “German spy,” mocked his accent, gave him a Nazi salute and put pictures of Hitler on his toolbox. The lawsuit also alleges that Autonation employees, including management, routinely called Zbigniew Orlinki a “f---ing Polack” and “dumb Polack” because of his national origin, at least every other day.

According to the EEOC, management was aware of the harassment and, rather than taking corrective action, retaliated against the service technicians by subjecting them to unwarranted disciplinary actions and ultimately terminating them.

Discrimination based on national origin violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

“The EEOC will rigorously enforce its laws prohibiting all harassment based upon national origin regardless of the country of origin at issue,” said EEOC District Director Rayford Irvin.

Regional Attorney Mary Jo O’Neill of the EEOC’s Phoenix District Office said, “Companies cannot allow their employees to subject others to harassment because of where they were born. By not taking prompt, corrective action when companies become aware of harassment, companies subject themselves to liability for the hostile work environment suffered by their employees.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.