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EEOC Said Car Dealership Fired Service Advisor for Complaining

PHILADELPHIA - Murphy Ford Inc., doing business as Murphy Ford Lincoln Mercury Murphy Ford Inc., a car dealership located in Chester, Pa., will pay $244,000 to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), announced today. The EEOC had charged that Murphy Ford sexually harassed three female employees and fired one woman for complaining about the unlawful harassment.

The EEOC said in its lawsuit that the dealership’s service manager sexually harassed Cynthia Bell and other female employees in the service department. The EEOC charged that the service manager’s harassment included sexually explicit comments, references to oral sex and grabbing his private parts in their presence. Despite Bell’s complaints to the owner and dealership management, Murphy Ford did nothing to stop the harassment. Instead, the EEOC said that the dealership retaliated against Bell by suddenly firing her.

Sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about it violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (civil action no. 08-cv-1235, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.

The seven-year consent decree settling the suit provides $206,500 to Bell, who was also represented by private counsel, Edith A. Pearce. The consent decree, which is pending judicial approval, contains significant remedial relief, including a provision that Murphy Ford train managers and supervisors regarding Title VII’s legal requirements annually for the seven-year duration of the consent decree.

“Internal complaints about unlawful harassment give the employer the chance to correct problems before they turn into lawsuits,” said EEOC Acting Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence. “This case should remind employers that they have an obligation to take prompt and effective measures to stop harassment in the workplace. If the employer instead does the wrong thing and terminates an employee who complains about harassment, then the EEOC will take action.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the Commission is available on its web site at