A former car salesman who claimed a Cary dealership fired him because it felt selling cars was a “young man’s game” appears to have plucked victory from the jaws of legal defeat.
The salesman alleged that his former employer, Crossroads Ford, fired him because of his age. He filed a complaint under the state’s Equal Employment Practices Act.
He claimed the dealership’s vice president regularly called him “old man” in a way that was clearly not a term of endearment. The dealership countered that the salesman violated company policy by letting another salesman sell one of the man’s personal cars to a dealership customer.
The dealership moved to have the case dismissed, and a Wake County judge was ready to do just that when the salesman produced an affidavit from his successor that largely substantiated his age discrimination claims. It came in just hours before the case was to be decided. However, the trial judge disallowed the affidavit and granted the dealership’s motion to dismiss.
The salesman appealed. Now the state court of appeals has reversed both decisions, ruling that the affidavit raises questions that a jury should decide. Barring a settlement, the case will now go to trial.
Note: Crossroads Ford might have had a legitimate reason to fire the salesman, but its allegedly discriminatory workplace atmosphere may force it to settle rather than face an expensive trial.