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EEOC Says Male Owner of Car Dealership Sexually Harassed Female Employees

RALEIGH, N.C. – The company that owns and operates New Bern Mazda-Suzuki in New Bern, N.C., violated federal law when one of its owners sexually harassed female employees, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

According to the EEOC’s suit against New Bern Imports and Trucks, LLC, Amanda Santos Smith and other similarly situated female employees who were employed at New Bern Mazda-Suzuki between the summer of 2005 and the fall of 2008 were subjected to a sexually hostile workplace. The suit alleges that one of the owners of the company that operates the car dealership subjected the female employees to un­welcome touching and made repeated comments about their breasts and buttocks. In addition, the owner, who is male, propositioned one female employee for sex and asked at least one other female employee if he could see her naked, the EEOC charges.

Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In the lawsuit, the EEOC seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the affected women, as well as injunctive and other non-monetary relief. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. New Bern Imports and Trucks, LLC d/b/a New Bern Mazda-Suzuki, Civil Action No. 4:09-cv-165), after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement.

“The EEOC takes sexual harassment very seriously,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District, which includes the agency’s Raleigh Area Office, where the underlying charge of discrimination was filed. “No one should have to put up with sexual touching or comments in their place of work. The EEOC is com­mitted to using all available means, including litigation if necessary, to combat sexual harass­ment in the workplace.”

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