Monday, April 13, 2009

EEOC Subpoenas Colorado Car Dealership for Sexual Harassment Charges

A Colorado auto dealership's failure to respond to a federal agency's sexual harassment investigation has landed it in federal court.

According to court papers, Empire Lakewood Nissan in Aurora did not answer subpoenas from the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigating charges of sexual harassment.

A female dealership employee alleged that Empire Lakewood Nissan terminated her after she made reports of sex discrimination and sexual harassment. She claims male employees called her derogatory names and placed offensive graffiti about her at the dealership. Several male employees undermined her authority by refusing to take work assignments from her, according to the EEOC.

The EEOC claims the dealership failed to take appropriate action against the harassers. When Empire Lakewood Nissan did terminate the primary harasser, the dealership also terminated the female employee, citing a "lay off" of one person. The dealership then hired someone else to fill her position, even though she had volunteered to cut her hours to keep her job, according to court papers.

The EEOC subpoenaed the dealership, seeking documents reflecting complaints of harassment and what action was taken in response to them, but Empire Lakewood Nissan failed to respond.

United States District Judge Christine M. Arguello has ordered Empire Lakewood Nissan to appear in federal court on April 20, 2009, to show cause as to why it should not be compelled to comply with the EEOC's subpoena.

Employers should take a lesson from this case and take EEOC requests for information seriously. In many cases, these matters can be resolved with the EEOC before any lawsuits are filed, but ignoring an EEOC subpoena can land employers in federal court.

Employers can find information on responding to EEOC investigations at

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