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PRESS RELEASE
9-30-15

EEOC Sues Peoria Dealership Green Chevrolet for Disability Discrimination and Retaliation

Service Manager Was Subjected to Involuntary Transfer Due to Kidney Failure, Then Fired When He Resisted, Federal Agency Charges

CHICAGO - Green Chevrolet, an auto dealership in Peoria, Ill., violated federal law by forcing a transfer on a service manager because of a disability and then firing him for resisting the transfer, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed yesterday.

EEOC's investigation revealed that Green Chevrolet approached the employee on the very day he returned to work from beginning treatment for kidney failure to tell him he was being transferred into a position that had not previously existed. The employee was concerned that this transfer was actually the first step in firing him and put off the transfer as long as possible. When he was eventually told that he would be starting his new position within a matter of days, the employee asked his managers why none of the white employees were being considered for the new position. He was terminated days later. Green Chevrolet later characterized this question as "playing the race card" and has admitted that this question played a role in its decision making regarding the employee. Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination based on disability. Both the ADA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also prohibit retaliation against an employee for opposing practices made unlawful under these acts. The lawsuit, filed Sept. 29 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Green Chevrolet, Inc., Civil Action No. 15-1412), seeks damages for the former employee as well as injunctive relief. The case will be heard by District Judge Michael M. Mihm.

"While it may be human nature to take offense when one's motives are called into doubt, when such a question is tied to a reasonable belief that the law is being broken, that question is protected speech under the civil rights laws and cannot be the basis for a termination," said EEOC Chicago District Regional Attorney John Hendrickson. "EEOC will fight for employees' rights to defend themselves."

EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota, and operates Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.