Dealership Wouldn't Let Older Salespersons Sell Scions, Agency Says
SAN ANTONIO - A San Antonio car dealership will pay $140,000 to settle an age-based discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
The EEOC's lawsuit charged Judson Motors, Ltd., doing business as Universal Toyota, a car dealership which is part of the Red McCombs Automotive Group, with discriminating against older salespersons by not permitting them to sell automobiles under the Scion brand because of their age.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, at least four salespersons, all over the age of 40, were denied the opportunity to become certified to sell and/or sell the Scion brand based on their age. Witnesses confirmed to the EEOC that Universal Toyota managers actually told older salespersons who were rejected for Scion sales that they were too old to sell the brand, which was supposedly oriented toward younger buyers. While older salespersons were essentially restricted to selling only Toyota vehicles in the new car lots, younger salespersons who had been allowed to be certified to sell Scions could sell both Toyota and Scion vehicles.
Additionally, according to the lawsuit, after one salesperson reported discrimination, managers retaliated against him by harassing and intimidating him, hampering his ability to close sales deals, and by downgrading his pay plan. When the retaliation became so intolerable, the EEOC said, he felt compelled to resign.
Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division (EEOC v. Judson Motors, Ltd. d/b/a Universal Toyota., Civil Action No. 5:11-cv-00076-XR) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
"Car sales is a tough and unforgiving business," said EEOC Trial Attorney David Rivela. "A salesperson's livelihood depends ultimately on how many cars he is able to sell in a month. Sometimes, even a few extra cars sold can mean the difference between making sales goals and earning commissions and bonuses -- or not having a job. Through this case, we hope to have provided a framework for ensuring an even playing field for the sales team -- without regard to age."
The two-year consent decree settling the suit, signed by U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez, requires Universal Toyota to adopt and implement an effective equal employment opportunity policy that prohibits any further discrimination on the basis of age; provide training in the requirements of the ADEA to members of Universal Toyota's management; and pay $140,000 to the victims of the discrimination in this case.
EEOC's Supervisory Trial Attorney Judith G. Taylor said, "This is a favorable resolution for everyone. Universal Toyota should be commended for taking the necessary steps to resolve this case."
Janet Elizondo, the EEOC's Dallas district director, added, "It is always a good result when we can eliminate barriers that unnecessarily limit the opportunities of older workers to maximize their skills and income."
In fiscal year 2011, the EEOC received a total of 23,465 charges of age discrimination, which accounted for 23.4 percent of all charges filed with the EEOC nationwide.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.