The EEOC has filed a sexual harassment, race discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against Murphy Ford Lincoln-Mercury in Chester. The lawsuit alleges the dealership ignored complaints about a manager who sexually harassed three female employees.
The EEOC says Ronald DeMuro, a service manager, verbally abused Cynthia Bell, the only black woman in the service department. He allegedly asked her why “black people eat grits,” provided explicit details about a sexual encounter he had with a black woman and propositioned her for sex. Bell also says DeMuro grabbed her and kissed her on the cheek. When Bell complained, she says she was fired.
The other two plaintiffs claim DeMuro made crude gestures such as grabbing his crotch, asked them for sexual favors and frequently commented on their breasts and buttocks.
Murphy Ford attorney Veronica Saltz strongly disputed the EEOC’s allegations, saying its investigation was “completely one-sided. In fact, I wouldn’t even call it an investigation.” Saltz said she did not believe DeMuro was still working for the company.
Tip: Companies aren’t always automatically responsible for every employee’s behavior in the workplace—until an employee complains. Once that happens, the burden shifts to the employer. A case such as this one calls for an immediate separation of the parties and a thorough investigation. Anything less might land you in court.
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- Tell managers: No paternalistic protection allowed
- Beware of requiring lengthy travel without paying for worker's time
- Court: EEOC off the hook for $4.7M in legal fees
- Unionized? You may be able to use progressive discipline to address some forms of harassment