Fixed Ops Journal - May 2016 - (Page 8)
FIXED OPS JOURNAL
● Service advisers
and the U.S.
| PAGE 48 |
■ Respond carefully
to discrimination claims
The case awaits trial on Salerno's claim
that he was unlawfully terminated in retaliation for complaining about the defendants'
wage practices, said Salerno's lawyer,
Michael Bace, of Boston.
ealership management should be alert
to implicit bias in the workplace to
avoid potential discrimination lawsuits. And
managers should not retaliate if an employee levels a discrimination charge.
Those are two lessons from a pending disability discrimination and retaliation lawsuit
against a Peoria, Ill., dealership, said Ethan
Cohen, the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission lawyer litigating the case on behalf of an African-American former service
manager at Green Chevrolet Inc.
According to the EEOC lawsuit, the store
told Keith Douglas on the day he returned to
work after starting treatment for kidney failure that he was being transferred to a new
position. Douglas said he thought the move
would lead to a salary cut and possible termination.
Douglas delayed the transfer as long as possible, contending that his health didn't prevent
him from staying in his current position. The
suit alleges that the dealership then wrongfully
terminated him in March 2013 when he asked
management why white co-workers weren't
being considered for the new position.
Dealership lawyer Bradford Ingram, of
Peoria, said he could not comment on the
case but in legal papers Green Chevrolet denied that "any of its employment practices
Cohen told Fixed Ops Journal that when
Douglas got sick, "The folks at the car dealership initially reacted very well and got him to
the hospital." But, he added, "From that moment on they were telling him they wanted
to move him to a different position."
The suit says, "Douglas was fired in retaliation for his opposition to unlawful employment practices."
Cohen said research has shown that virtually everyone has implicit biases and that
managers should ask themselves whether
they would handle situations differently if an
employee were of a different race.
He said a trial is scheduled for February
2017 in U.S. District Court.
■ No pay for maintaining
tools, cleaning shop
an mechanics legally work without pay
for time spent on "ancillary tasks" such
as cleaning the shop, interacting with cus-
■ Swift action helps
defeat retaliation suit
tomers, handling paperwork and maintaining tools?
Yes, a Massachusetts judge has ruled, in a
proposed class action on behalf of mechanics who earn $26 per flat labor hour while
servicing vehicles but are paid nothing for
That's the arrangement that mechanics at
Baystate Ford Inc., in Easton, and two Clark
& White stores in Newton agreed to when
they were hired, Middlesex County Superior
Court Justice Robert Gordon said in ruling
that the practice doesn't violate the Massachusetts wage law - as long as the dealerships comply with overtime and minimumwage requirements.
"This was an understood feature of the
bargained compensation structure," Gordon
said in dismissing a wage violation claim
filed by Ralph Salerno, a mechanic at
Baystate Ford and Clark & White from 2012
through 2014. The suit named the two companies and their owner.
According to court papers, Salerno was
paid for a guaranteed 40 flat-rate hours a
week at $26 an hour, assuming he worked a
full schedule without time off.
"At issue is the legal mandate that employers honor the promises they have made to
employees by paying them the agreed compensation they have 'earned' for their work,"
Gordon said. And here, there was no agreement to pay a "straight hourly rate for all
Paying mechanics by the flat-rate hour is a
"fairly common arrangement," said a lawyer for
the dealerships, Jeffrey Fritz, of Boston. "It incentivizes your mechanics to work efficiently."
Tennessee dealership's swift response
to a legations of on-the-job sexual harassment helped defeat an ex-manager's retaliation suit.
A federal judge dismissed the suit by a former service manager who claims she was
targeted for retaliation after reporting that
the male general manager had sexually harassed a female subordinate.
Lisa Smelser failed to present sufficient evidence of a hostile work environment or that
she was constructively discharged - a resignation caused by a hostile work environment - by Miracle Chrysler-Jeep-Ram in
Gallatin for reporting the incident, U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger said.
According to the suit, the store hired
Smelser as a service writer in 2005 and promoted her to service manager, the highestpaid position in the service department.
In 2011, she reported to the store's controller that General Manager Tim Galvin had
been sending unwanted "text messages of a
sexual nature" to a co-worker. Galvin
stopped doing so on orders from the controller.
Then in 2012, Smelser reported to the
store's owner that another female employee
had complained of "sexually inappropriate
conduct" by Galvin.
The owner reprimanded Galvin, who is his
son, warning that he'd be terminated if there
were any similar future allegations, the decision said.
Smelser's civil rights suit alleged that retaliatory harassment followed her reporting the
second incident - specifically "verbal
abuse" by Galvin and the controller - and
that she felt forced to quit.
In dismissing the case, Trauger said there
was no claim that Smelser personally had
been sexually harassed or that the store had
cut her hours, issued a written reprimand or
reduced her salary or benefits. Nor had
Galvin called her inappropriate names or
sworn at her. ■
- Eric Freedman ❙ email@example.com
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Fixed Ops Journal - May 2016
Fixed Ops Journal - May 2016
90-second oil change
5 Minutes With
Fixed in Time
Fixed Ops Journal - May 2016