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Press Release 08-07-2012

Fremont Toyota Pays $400,000 to Settle EEOC's Harassment and Retaliation Lawsuit

Afghan Americans Were Targeted for Name Calling and  Threats, Agency Charged

SAN FRANCISCO — Fremont,  Calif., car dealership Fremont Toyota agreed to pay $400,000 and implement training for the dealership's  management staff to settle a federal  discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity  Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. 

The EEOC's lawsuit charged that Fremont Toyota's general manager singled out four Afghan American  salesmen during a staff meeting, calling them "terrorists" and threatening them  with violence.  After the men reported  the harassment, they faced retaliation by the car dealership, such as  additional verbal harass­ment and extra job scrutiny.  Finally, the salesmen felt they had no option  but to resign.  An Afghan-American  manager was also fired from his job after he spoke up for the four salesmen. 

 "The irony of this matter is  that, after being labeled 'terrorists' at our old job, most of us found work  with the U.S. military serving in Afghanistan protecting U.S. soldiers from the  terrorists," said Mohammad Sawary, one of the former employees.

Harassment based on national origin and retaliation  violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  After an investigation by EEOC Investigators  Scott Doughtie and Adriana Gomez, and after first attempting to reach a  pre-litigation settlement through conciliation, the EEOC filed the lawsuit (EEOC v. Fremont  Automobile Dealership LLC, dba Fremont Toyota, Civil No. 11-4131  CRB) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.  Under the terms of the decree resolving the  lawsuit, Fremont Toyota agreed to train all managers, post a notice regarding  the lawsuit and to report to the EEOC for a three-year period, in addition to paying $400,000 to the five former employees.

EEOC San  Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo said, "We hope this case clearly signals that the civil  rights laws of this country protect everyone from illegal discrimination,  regardless of their national origin."

EEOC  San Francisco District Director Michael Baldonado noted that the Bay Area is  the home of the largest Afghan population outside of Afghanistan. 

Baldonado  said, "We hope this settlement makes more people in the Afghan community aware  of their rights and how the EEOC can protect them as we continue our outreach  to underserved communities."

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