Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Frank Fletcher Ford, former employee reach settlement in sexual harassment lawsuit

A settlement has apparently been reached in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former employee against Frank Fletcher Ford.

Judge Roseann Ketchmark dismissed the case, according to an order filed today in U. S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, one day after attorneys for Erin Rooney and Frank Fletcher Ford jointly filed a stipulation of dismissal.

No details were provided about the settlement.

Rooney's complaints against Frank Fletcher Ford were detailed in the lawsuit petition filed December 17.

On September 11, 2017, Plaintiff’s first official day on the showroom floor, Defendants told Plaintiff to partner with male veteran salesperson Bobby McCarter.

McCarter made sexually harassing and discriminatory comments to Plaintiff based on her sex, including but not limited to commenting on the size of her breasts, that he would love to have pictures of Plaintiff’s breasts, that it would be easy to get males to buy cars from Plaintiff because of the size of her breasts, and he asked her whether she had pictures of her body or breasts. Plaintiff was upset, embarrassed and humiliated by her colleague’s sexually harassing and discriminatory comments.

On or about September 27, 2017, Plaintiff arranged her first customer appointment at the dealership. Management again told Plaintiff to partner with McCarter, despite that Plaintiff arranged this customer appointment on her own.

Management and McCarter told Plaintiff that when the customer arrives, she should “sit there, smile, and nod” while McCarter handled the customer. Defendants told Plaintiff she should not speak to the customer. Defendants’ comments were discriminatory and suggested that Plaintiff’s job, as a female salesperson, was to simply “look pretty” rather than interacting with customers and making deals.

Defendants often passed over Plaintiff with opportunities to work on deals, in favor of her male counterparts.

For the next several weeks, McCarter continued to make discriminatory, harassing, and sexist comments about Plaintiff’s appearance. Furthermore, when Plaintiff would visit the sales tower, where three of Defendants’ Sales Managers – Barry Wimer, Jon Atwood, and Steve Gehrke – sat, Plaintiff would hear management make comments about female customers and whether they believed them to be “screwable” or “f---able.”

The male managers would also state, “I would do her” in reference to female customers.

Other times, the male managers were on their cell phones watching inappropriate YouTube videos during work hours. The sexual harassment and sex discrimination occurring at Defendants’ workplace was severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive, and interfered with the terms, conditions, privileges, and compensation of Plaintiff’s employment by making her feel disrespected, inferior, distracted, uncomfortable, and ultimately interfering with her ability to perform her job as a salesperson.

On or about October 7, 2017, Plaintiff called in late. She was scheduled to arrive at 8 a.m., and arrived at 10 a.m. 44. Plaintiff’s male counterpart, Richard Garza, was scheduled to arrive at 8 a.m. as well, and arrived at 12 p.m.

GM McCann issued Plaintiff a write up for being late, but on information and belief, did not write up the male employee, Mr. Garza. On information and belief, Defendants engaged in further sex discrimination toward Plaintiff when GM McCann issued Plaintiff a write up for tardiness, but did not issue her male colleague, Mr. Garza, a write up, for similar circumstances.

On or about October 9, 2017, Plaintiff spoke to Personnel Relations Manager, Steve Cottle, and complained about the unfair treatment to which she was being subjected. Mr. Cottle told Plaintiff he would talk to GM McCann.

Because the sex discrimination/sexual harassment continued at Fletcher Ford and had not been adequately addressed following her complaints, on October 16, 2017, Plaintiff took it upon herself to ask GM McCann if she could transfer to Fletcher Toyota. GM McCann said “yes,” as long as Jim Adams, GM at Fletcher Toyota, also approved the transfer.

On October 17, 2017, Plaintiff visited Fletcher Toyota and personally asked Jim Adams about transferring to his dealership. Mr. Adams said that because GM McCann approved her transfer, Mr. Adams would be fine with the transfer. Mr. Adams told Plaintiff to finish the month at Fletcher Ford, and that she would start at Fletcher Toyota on November 1, 2017.

On her way out, Mr. Adams told Plaintiff to stop by the Parts Department to pick up her red uniform shirt for Toy

ota. Plaintiff picked up and signed for the uniform. On October 19, 2017, Plaintiff brought her transfer paperwork to Jim Adams at Toyota for him to sign. He said he needed to discuss with McCann. McCann was out from work on October 19 and 20, 2017, and Plaintiff had a personal day off scheduled October 21, 2017.

On October 23, 2017, Plaintiff called in sick. October 24, 2017 was her scheduled day off. 55. On October 25, 2017, Plaintiff came in early to make up hours due to having been sick. Plaintiff gave Sales Manager Barry Wimer a doctor’s note for her absence.

On October 26, 2017, Plaintiff was assigned a significant amount of work to perform without assistance. Specifically, Plaintiff was assigned to key all of the used cars on her own.

From approximately 8:30-11:00am, Plaintiff worked on and completed the assignment to key the used cars. Then, Manager Jon Atwood called Plaintiff to speak with him, and he unexpectedly told Plaintiff things were “not working” and terminated her employment and escorted her off the premises.

Plaintiff believes the true reason for her termination was sex discrimination/harassment and in retaliation for her complaints of discriminatory/harassing treatment. Following Plaintiff’s wrongful termination, she reported unfair treatment to Joel Bradley (HR Director) over the phone. Mr. Bradley said he would investigate. Mr. Bradley claimed “nothing came up” in his alleged investigation.

Plaintiff does not believe an adequate investigation was undertaken. Defendants’ management tolerated, condoned, and participated in discriminatory and harassing treatment toward females, including Plaintiff, on the basis of sex, and gave preferential treatment to male employees as compared to similarly situated female employees, including Plaintiff.

Plaintiff believes Defendants continue to discriminate and retaliate against her by refusing or failing to properly service her vehicle that she purchased from Fletcher Ford a few weeks before she was hired. 66.

As a result of Defendants’ discriminatory and harassing treatment toward Plaintiff on the basis of her sex, and in retaliation for her complaints of sex discrimination/harassment, Defendants terminated Plaintiff’s employment.

As a result of the defendants’ discriminatory/harassing and retaliatory conduct, Plaintiff has suffered and will continue to suffer damages, including but not limited to past and future lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, stress and anguish, embarrassment, and harm to reputation.

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