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White Salesman Was Forced to Quit After Complaining About Harassment and Retaliation, By Black Supervisor, Federal Agency Charges

HOUSTON - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today filed a workplace discrimination lawsuit against Worldclass Automotive, doing business as Planet Ford, a North Houston new and used car dealership and service center.

The EEOC's suit (C.A. No. 4:09-cv-3096) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas), charged that William Robinson, a Caucasian male over age 40, was subjected to un­lawful harassment based on his race, age, and sex by his African American male supervisor Further, Robinson complained to higher management to no avail, the EEOC said. Robinson found his sales paperwork in his supervisor’s waste basket and the supervisor told Robinson he would not process Robinson’s deals. According to the complaint, the continued harassment and retaliatory treatment forced Robinson to resign at the end of May 2007. The complaint also alleges that another salesman was subjected to harassment because of his age and sex.

"Employees have an absolute right under federal law to be free from this type of harassment in the workplace," said R. J. Ruff, Jr., director of the Houston District Office. "Further, it is illegal to retaliate against and fire an employee for complaining about unlawful harassment."

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race and sex, which includes unlawful harassment on these bases. The statute also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who complain about conduct which violates the statute. Further, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits harassment based on age and retaliation against employees who complain about such harassment or other age discrimination. The EEOC filed the lawsuit after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement. The agency is seeking back wages, compensatory and punitive damages and other relief.

Houston Regional Attorney Jim Sacher said, "By this lawsuit, the EEOC sends a message to companies, both small and large, that it will vigorously prosecute all violations of workplace anti-discrimination law."

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

Anyone who believes he or she has been subjected to a discriminatory employment practice is encouraged to contact the EEOC's Houston District Office, which is located in downtown Houston on the sixth floor of the Mickey Leland Federal Building at 1919 Smith Street and may be reached by telephone at (713) 209-3372.