The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged South Austin Nissan, operated by NICPA Central Auto Group, LLC, with subjecting female employees to sexual harassment and retaliating against those who reported it.
The lawsuit, filed by the EEOC, detailed how three managers at the Austin, TX, car dealership engaged in "egregious and persistent" sexual harassment towards female staff. The managers are accused of making unsolicited physical contact, issuing inappropriate comments about the employees' appearances and personal relationships, and promoting a culture where sexual discussions and videos were commonplace.
Among the allegations is that managers encouraged female sales staff to dress provocatively with the motto "show more, sell more," linking job performance with sexualized appearance. Several female employees, unable to endure this hostile environment, were reportedly forced to resign.
The case further alleged employees who reported the harassment faced retaliation. Reports to the company's human resources director and chief operating officer led to no meaningful investigation or corrective action, the lawsuit said. Instead, those who spoke out, including a male manager, were transferred, faced pay cuts or, in one case, termination.
"It is unacceptable for a manager to suggest to women that their bodies are their best contribution in the workplace," said Shannon Black, an EEOC trial attorney. Black emphasized the aggravating factor of employer inaction in cases of reported harassment.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, and seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive remedies. These include stronger oversight for investigating sexual harassment and discrimination.