Oakdale Shop Manager Derided Women and Mexicans, Federal Agency Charges
SAN JOSE, Calif. — A San Joaquin/Stanislaus County, Calif., auto repair company violated federal law when it allowed its Oakdale shop manager to harass an employee due to her Mexican national origin and her gender and then fired her for reporting the discrimination, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.
According to the EEOC’s suit, Rena Flores, age 26 and of Mexican ancestry, worked as a secretary at Oakdale Collision Center . The EEOC’s investigation found that the store manager there publicly disparaged Mexicans, calling them “smelly,” “greasy” and “wetbacks.” He also regularly made sexist and sexually inappropriate comments, claiming that “women should clean the bathrooms, not men,” and that “women belonged barefoot and pregnant.” In addition, the manager asked Flores sexual questions and made sexually inappropriate comments, the EEOC said.
“His ‘jokes’ were painful and offensive,” said Flores. “He went off constantly, over a period of months. And when I finally gathered the courage to tell him and his bosses that this behavior was not OK, the company laid me off within a month and hired a new employee to do my job. It’s a relief to know that there is a law and a federal agency that say this is wrong and should be fixed.”
Harassment due to national origin and gender violates Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964. The law also protects workers who report discrimination from retaliation. After first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through conciliation, the EEOC filed the lawsuit (EEOC v. Robert Morgan Enterprises, Civil No. C 10-4757 PVT) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, and seeks monetary damages on behalf of Flores, training on anti-discrimination laws, posting of notices at the work site and other injunctive relief.
“Although the company had a written policy against harassment, clearly there was a failure to implement it,” said Michael Baldonado, the EEOC’s San Francisco District Director. “Our investigation revealed that some managers did not quite understand what conduct was prohibited by the policy, while others did not seem to be aware there was one to begin with .”
EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo noted, “ All workers have a federally protected right to a workplace free from unlawful discrimination . In addition, workers have the right to report discrimination without fear of reprisal. The EEOC will vigorously defend both rights and hold employers accountable for harassment and retaliation.”
According to its website, www.morgancollision.com, Robert Morgan Enterprises is a Lathrop, Calif.-based business that owns and operates shops in Oakdale, Lathrop, Tracy, Stockton, Modesto and Manteca, Calif.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Additional information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.