Employee Fired for Advising Other Employees to File Hostile Work Environment Complaints, Federal Agency Says
HONOLULU, Hawaii - Aloha Auto Group, Ltd. violated federal law when it fired an employee for advising other employees of their right to complain about racial harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.
According to EEOC's lawsuit, Daniel Young worked in the sales and rentals departments at Aloha Auto Group's Harley-Davidson dealership on Kauai. EEOC alleges that in 2014, Young was informed by a group of Asian-American and Pacific Islander employees that they had been subjected to racially discriminatory comments by the dealership's general manager. EEOC contends that when Aloha Auto Group discovered that Young had talked to other employees about their right to file a hostile work environment complaint, the company fired him in retaliation.
Such alleged conduct violates the provisions against retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. EEOC filed its suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii (EEOC v. Aloha Auto Group Ltd, Case No: 1:16-cv-00521) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. EEOC's suit seeks back pay, benefits and compensatory and punitive damages for Young, as well as injunctive relief intended to prevent any future discrimination in the workplace.
"Retaliation is the most common type of discrimination charge EEOC receives," said Anna Park, regional attorney for EEOC's Los Angeles District, which includes Hawaii in its jurisdiction. "Informing other employees of their workplace rights is a protected activity, and trying to quash that right is unlawful."
Glory Gervacio Saure, director of EEOC's Honolulu Local Office, added, "Hawaii is a diverse society with people from different racial backgrounds. Employers need to be cognizant of this and ensure a workplace that is free of racial hostility and discrimination."
According to the company's website, www.aaghi.com, Aloha Auto Group owns and operates a chain of car and motorcycle dealerships throughout the islands of Hawaii.
Preserving access to the legal system by targeting policies and practices that discourage or prohibit individuals from exercising their rights under employment discrimination statutes is one of six national priorities identified by EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).
EEOC is the federal government agency responsible for enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws in the workplace. Further information about EEOC is available on the agency's website at www.eeoc.gov.