EEOC Sues James Mitsubishi Hamburg for Sexual Harassment

Two Female Employees Were Subjected to a Sexually Hostile Work Environment, Federal Agency Charges

BUFFALO, NY (STL.News) James Cars of Hamburg, LLC, doing business as James Mitsubishi Hamburg, and its parent company James Auto Management LLC, violated federal law by subjecting two female employees to a sexually hostile work environment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed recently.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the general manager of the Hamburg dealership and two other dealerships owned by the parent company in Rome and Greece, N.Y., made numerous unwelcome sexual advances and comments to two female employees.  The manager’s unwelcome conduct included repeatedly staring at and making com­ments about their bodies and asking them to join him in his hotel room.  According to the lawsuit, the general manager mimed sex acts in front of a female employee and told her that he imagined waking up next to her in bed.  The EEOC further alleges he engaged in inappropriate physical contact with the female employees, including giving unwelcome massages.

The EEOC’s lawsuit alleges the general manager’s behavior was well-known throughout the dealership, including by the Vice President of Human Resources, who witnessed and encouraged the harassment.  Ultimately, one female employee was forced to quit because James Mitsubishi Hamburg took no action to stop the harassment.  Such conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace.

The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. James Cars of Hamburg LLC d/b/a James Mitsubishi Hamburg, and James Auto Management LLC, Civil Action No. 1:20-cv-00780) in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, Buffalo Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through the agency’s conciliation process.  The EEOC seeks compensatory and punitive damages for both affected emp­loyees, back pay for the employee forced to resign, and injunctive relief designed to prevent future sexual harassment in the workplace.

“Employers who are aware of sexual harassment in the workplace have a legal obligation to quickly end it,” said Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the EEOC’s New York District Office.  “The EEOC will continue to take action against businesses who fail to protect their employees from unlawful harassment.”

Judy Keenan, director of the New York District Office, said, “No employee should be forced to choose between enduring sexual advances and comments and earning a living.  Ending sexual harassment in the workplace remains a priority for the EEOC.”

The EEOC’s New York District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, northern New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont.  The agency’s Buffalo Local Office conducted the investigation resulting in this lawsuit.

The case will be litigated by EEOC trial attorney James Bobseine and EEOC supervisory trial attorney Nora Curtin.