A car dealership in Miami, Florida, recently paid $150,000 to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit with a former assistant parts manager. The dealership was a Miami AutoNation and the suit was filed against the dealership by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) back in September 2017. In the suit, former assistant parts manager, Jacqueline de la Torre accused AutoNation Chevrolet Coral Gables and AutoNation Inc. of “failing to promote Jacqueline to a parts manager position because she’s a woman.”
De la Torre worked for the dealership from 1996 to 2013 and climbed the ladder from “a clerical position to assistant parts manager, a position she held for approximately 10 years,” according to the lawsuit. While working as an assistant parts manager, she reported to Juan Huerta, the parts manager. However, when “Huerta’s position opened up in 2013, the dealership did not conduct a formal application or interview process.” Additionally, the de la Torre was never considered for or given the opportunity to apply for the position, according to the suit.
Eventually, the position was given to Jason Armas, prompting de la Torre to air her “grievances to AutoNation’s district and regional management about the dealership’s failure to give her an opportunity to formally apply for the spot.” In response, she was told by management that the company “needed a man” for the position and added that while “Management acknowledged that [de la Torre] was the most qualified candidate for the parts manager position, it was too late to undo things.”
To make matters worse, de la Torre was also responsible for training Armas. Shortly afterward, Raul Gandarillas, the general manager of the store, allegedly “began verbally harassing her by telling employees that he wanted de la Torre to leave and referring to her as ‘only clerical’ in spite of her years of experience. As a result, she was forced to resign Aug. 17, 2013,” according to the suit.
Settlement negotiations involving the suit began last November and finally, both parties reached an agreement. However, the agreement was “contingent on the addition of another AutoNation dealership, Mercedes-Benz of Miami, as a party defendant.” When asked why Mercedes-Benz of Miami was added to the mix, AutoNation declined to comment. However, the spokesman for AutoNation issued the following statement shortly after the settlement agreement was finalized:
“AutoNation Chevrolet Coral Gables and Mercedes-Benz of Miami are committed to providing equal employment and advancement opportunities for all employees and do not tolerate discrimination.”
Robert Weisberg of the EEOC’s Miami District Office Regional Attorney chimed in with the following statement:
“Employers in traditionally male-dominated professions must make the workplace safe for all employees to compete for promotions on a fair and level playing field, without regard to gender. We believe this resolution will help dispel misguided unlawful gender-based stereotypes.”