Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Lawsuit accuses Advance of racial bias
The EEOC has filed a suit in Pennsylvania on behalf of a former warehouse manager.
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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing Advance Auto Parts on charges that it discriminated against a black former employee at a Pennsylvania facility.
The lawsuit, filed last week in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, alleges that the Roanoke-based automotive parts and accessories retailer failed to investigate complaints by Matthew Osley of Bethlehem, Pa.
It claims Osley was treated unfairly and ultimately was forced to leave his job as operations manager at a Kutztown, Pa., warehouse facility because of racial comments and treatment by a manager.
Shelly Whitaker, an Advance spokeswoman, said Monday the company could not fully comment on the lawsuit.
"Advance has not been served with the lawsuit yet, so we cannot address the specifics," she said. "However, we are an equal opportunity employer and do not discriminate on the basis of race or any other protected status, with respect to employees or applicants."
Specifically, the lawsuit states that a white assistant general manager, Scott Cox, made racially biased comments toward Osley, telling him that he would be "cracking the whip" on Osley, who had worked at the facility since January 2005.
Cox was promoted to general manager at the warehouse facility in 2007 and, in that role, he undermined Osley's managerial authority and held him to higher performance standards than white supervisors, the lawsuit alleges.
After Osley complained to Cox about the racial comments and to several managers, including an on-site human resources manager, Cox gave Osley a negative performance review. Osley also was given a 30-day unreasonable performance improvement plan, the lawsuit claims
Additionally, Osley complained to Michael Russell, vice president of human resources, but no action was taken, according to the lawsuit.
Osley left the facility May 10, 2007, because he was "forced to leave his job due to the uncorrected racial harassment and retaliation," states an EEOC news release.
The lawsuit asks that Advance Auto compensate Osley for emotional pain, humiliation and monetary loss. The EEOC said it filed the lawsuit after attempting to reach a voluntary settlement in the case.
The number of filings that allege race-based discrimination are on the rise for the EEOC.
In fiscal 2007, the EEOC received 30,510 such filings, a 12 percent increase from 2006 and the highest level of race charges since 1994, according to a news release. Race discrimination is the most frequent type of charge filing at EEOC offices nationwide, the commission said.