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EEOC Settles Suit with Automotive Retail Giant

PHILADELPHIA – Advance Auto Parts, the second-largest  automotive aftermarket retailer in the United States, has agreed to pay $40,000  and furnish equitable relief to settle a race discrimination lawsuit, the U.S.  Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today.

The EEOC charged that the only African-American operations manager at Advance Auto Part’s Kutztown, Pa., facility, was subjected to racially insensitive language and disparate treatment because of his race, black. According to the lawsuit, Advance Auto held this manager to much higher performance standards than white supervisors.

The EEOC contended that after the African-American manager complained to the general manager about the unfair racial discrimination, Advance Auto retaliated against him by giving him an unfavorable performance review and placing him on a burdensome performance improvement plan, despite his good performance history. The manager was compelled to leave his job due to the uncorrected racial discrimination and retaliation.

Title VII of  the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal to treat black employees less  favorably than white employees based on race and to retaliate against someone  who complains about race discrimination.  The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action 08-4336, in U.S. District Court for  the Eastern District of Pennsylvania) after first attempting to reach a  voluntary settlement out of court.

The  two-year consent decree, which is pending judicial approval, also contains  significant equitable relief, including prohibitions against unlawful discrimination,  training of all managers and supervisors on employee rights and employer  obligations under Title VII, and the posting of a notice regarding this  settlement.

“All  employees have the right to complain about employment discrimination without  being subjected to unlawful reprisal,” said EEOC Acting Regional Attorney Debra  Lawrence of the Philadelphia District Office.  “We are pleased that the parties were able to resolve this matter and  that Advance Auto agreed to implement corrective measures designed to prevent  future problems in the workplace.”

During Fiscal Year 2008, race  discrimination charges soared to historic high level of 33,937 -- an increase  of 11% from the prior fiscal year.  Retaliation charges surged to a record high level of 32,690—a 23% jump  from the prior fiscal year and more  than double the number of such filings in the early 1990s.

According to its web site,,  Advance Auto Parts, based in Roanoke, Va., is a Fortune 500 company that employs more than  43,000 team members and operates more than 3,000 stores in 40 continental  states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

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