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Monday, February 15, 2010

Current, Former Employees Sue AAA Carolinas

Here's the story from the Winston-Salem Journal:


Former and current employees have sued AAA Carolinas, claiming that the travel organization discriminated against them based on race and sex.

Brendan Byrnes, a spokesman for AAA Carolinas, said yesterday that the company denies all the allegations and is prepared to fight them.

The employees who filed the lawsuit work or worked at AAA's car- care and towing services in Charlotte.

Trevor Fuller, an attorney for the employees, said that most had filed complaints first with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the EEOC issued a "right to sue" notice.

Byrnes said that AAA is aware of the complaints filed with the EEOC.

"AAA vehemently denies any such allegations, and we'll fight them in court," he said.

In the lawsuit, the workers say that less-qualified white workers were promoted over experienced black employees and that substantial pay gaps between black and white workers existed.

"AAA has used the dues collected from its members to perpetuate a regime of blatant and totalitarian racial discrimination, where complaints and resistance are not tolerated," the lawsuit says.

The employees allege that they were retaliated against if they complained about supervisor behavior.

One former employee, Eric Greene, said in the lawsuit that his car was stolen and "burnt to a crisp" after he made several complaints of discrimination.

"Defendants made clear that racial-discrimination complaints were not to be tolerated, and they reinforced this status quo through intimidation and retaliation," the lawsuit says.

In Greene's case, the lawsuit says that he was demoted after complaining in June 2008 about racial harassment by his boss.

When he filed a complaint with the EEOC, the lawsuit says that he was denied a quarterly bonus unless he withdrew the complaint.

Instead, Greene filed a second charge with EEOC that, the lawsuit says, led to a threatening letter, written anonymously and filled with profanity and a racial slur.

Greene reported the letter to AAA and met with an attorney in September 2008.

The lawsuit claims that his car was stolen later that day and when police found it, it had been set on fire. Greene was fired the next day.

One of the women participating in the lawsuit claims that another female employee was fired just days after being fondled by a company vice president.

According to the suit, the employees want the company to be forced to give black employees a chance to compete for better work and pay and to assign black workers to positions they would have attained if not for racial discrimination.

Click here to read another story from the Charlotte Observer.

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