AOD Ventures, Inc., operating as Autos of Dallas, a pre-owned vehicle retailer in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, agreed to pay $22,500 and provide additional relief to settle a race discrimination lawsuit. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced the resolution of the case, which stemmed from an incident at a December 2019 holiday party where a Black salesman was subjected to racially offensive conduct.

The lawsuit, filed by the EEOC, claimed the salesman, Jonathon Sellers, was presented with a trophy by management, sarcastically labeling him as the employee “Least Likely to Be Seen in the Dark.” Sellers reported the incident to the general manager of Autos of Dallas, but his concerns were met with inaction.

Such behavior, as alleged in the lawsuit, contravenes Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which explicitly prohibits discrimination based on race and color. The EEOC took legal action in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division, after unsuccessful attempts to reach a pre-litigation settlement through the EEOC's conciliation process.

The resolution of the lawsuit includes not just the monetary compensation but also steps towards ensuring a discrimination-free workplace at Autos of Dallas. As part of the consent decree, the company has agreed to implement comprehensive training for all employees, covering aspects of race discrimination and harassment. This two-year decree further prohibits Autos of Dallas from engaging in any form of racial discrimination or harassment that contributes to a hostile work environment.

"This consent decree is crucial not only for resolving Mr. Sellers' case but also for committing Autos of Dallas to extensive employee training against racial harassment," said Joel Clark, a senior trial attorney with the EEOC's Dallas District Office.

EEOC Regional Attorney Robert Canino expressed dismay at the continued prevalence of such discriminatory practices, nearly 60 years after the enactment of Title VII. He stressed the need for clear leadership and explicit communication in businesses to prevent and address discriminatory conduct in the workplace.

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