Man claims sexual harassment led to job loss

By Kelly Holleran | Oct 10, 2014

Gulf States Toyota is accused of racial discrimination and sexual harassment and is named as a defendant in a recently filed lawsuit.

Nelson Washington filed a lawsuit Sept. 2 in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas against Gulf States Toyota.

In his complaint, Washington claims he was working an as operations team leader for Gulf States Toyota and was responsible for managing installation operations in the vehicle processing center. Washington, a black man, reported to the operation manager, who disparately treated male and minority employees, according to the complaint.

In his capacity as a manager, Washington says he also experienced sexual harassment from one of his employees, who continuously tapped on his window to gain his attention. In addition, she told Washington she should be the center of attention and that he should call her a "little primadonna," the suit states.

"Ms. (name withheld) has made statements about my penis size," the complaint says. "Specifically, she stated, 'You have small feet and you know what they say about men with small feet.'"

Washington reported her behavior to the operations manager and to his human resources manager, but they failed to investigate his concerns, the complaint says. Instead, they told him to handle the behavior himself. In turn, Washington gave the woman a verbal warning, he claims.

In addition, Washington claims he was given job duties on top of those assigned to his white counterpart.

"Additionally, Mr. (name withheld) received a higher compensation even though he and plaintiff performed identical job functions, and plaintiff had more education and job experience," the complaint says.

On Sept. 30, 2013, Washington was placed on a performance improvement plan, which was a racially based maneuver by the manager, he claims.

After an encounter with the female employee in which she accused Washington of yelling at her, Washington was placed on paid administrative leave on Nov. 14, 2013, according to the complaint. He was ultimately terminated on Nov. 21, 2013, the suit states.

Washington accuses the defendant company of engaging in racial discrimination and of retaliating against him in response to his sexual harassment complaints.

He seeks compensatory damages, plus back and front pay, attorneys' fees, costs, punitive damages and other relief the court deems just.

Chukwudi Egbuonu of the Law Office of Chukwudi Egbuonu in Houston will be representing him.

U.S. District Court case number: 4:14-CV-2511.

This is a report on a civil lawsuit filed at the U.S. District Court. The details in this report come from an original complaint filed by a plaintiff. Please note that a complaint represents an accusation by a private individual, not the government. It is not an indication of guilt, and it represents only one side of the story.

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