A woman who was formerly employed by a well-known Philadelphia car dealership has filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against the company, alleging her termination was retaliatory in nature, and not related to her work performance.
Philadelphia attorneys Sidney L. Gold and Traci M. Greenberg filed the civil complaint Oct. 3 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of Northeast Philadelphia resident Courtney Curran.
The defendant in the case is Gary Barbera Enterprises, LLC.
According to the complaint, Curran was hired as a “greeter” at the Gary Barbera Chryslerland at 7810 Roosevelt Blvd. in early June 2009. At the time, Curran was the only female employed in the business’s sales department.
In January 2010, the lawsuit claims, Curran began to experience harassment by a middle-aged dealership employee, who made “pervasive sexually-offensive remarks” toward the plaintiff that created a “hostile work environment” for Curran.
In late January, the suit states, Curran lodged a complaint of sexual harassment with company officials, but no corrective action was taken, and the alleged harassment continued.
The harassment included the male employee making reference to the various sexual acts he wanted to perform with plaintiff, running his fingers down her back during work hours, and telling her that her boyfriend wasn’t right for her, the lawsuit alleges.
The employee also repeatedly attempted to get Curran to drive him home from work, but Curran rebuffed his attempts in all circumstances.
In early March 2010, the employee became frustrated with Curran’s continued opposition to his advances, and he allegedly retaliated against her by becoming physical in the workplace, in this instance smacking her hand away from a service bell.
It was at this point that Curran allegedly reached her limit, stating “enough is enough,” and again registering a complaint with company officials.
As a further retaliation against Curran for the complaints made against him, the male employee then accuses Curran of calling him a racial slur; (the man is black while the plaintiff is white).
Curran denied she ever used the word in question.
After an altercation following a meeting with the two, Curran was suspended for allegedly making a scene at work, while the male employee was not disciplined, the suit claims.
Curran was eventually asked to write a response to the male employee’s allegations that Curran called him a racial slur. She still maintained her innocence.
Curran then asked company officials if they would investigate her claims of sexual harassment, but they responded by saying they didn’t believe anything inappropriate took place.
In mid March 2010, Curran was fired from her job, allegedly for “business being slow,” the lawsuit claims.
During her termination meeting, the defendant attempted to get Curran to sign a separation report that falsely stated that Curran was resigning and not being terminated, the suit states. She refused to sign the form.
“Plaintiff Curran believes and avers that no legitimate business reason existed for her termination and that her employment was terminated in retaliation for opposing unlawful sexual harassment in the workplace,” the lawsuit states.
The complaint accuses the defendant of providing a hostile work environment, permitting sexual harassment, and retaliating against the plaintiff for her claims of harassment by a coworker.
Curran seeks lost wages, unspecified compensatory, punitive and pecuniary damages, as well as damages for pain and suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of life’s enjoyment and other losses.
The plaintiff has demanded a jury trial.
The federal case number is 2:11-cv-06206-LS.