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Florida Employee Wins At Trial Over Harley-Davidson Dealership In EEOC Discrimination Lawsuit

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Having represented employment discrimination victims for more than twenty years, our Marion County, Florida employment lawyers know that women continue to face significant obstacles in their efforts to obtain promotion. In far too many cases, our Ocala, Florida employment attorneys have learned, employers pass women over for promotion based on gender stereotypes in favor of less-qualified men. In this article, our Marion County, Florida employment lawyers explain how a gender discrimination lawsuit recently tried before a jury in a Florida federal court by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) demonstrates that women have a remedy under federal employment discrimination law when they are denied promotion because of their gender.

Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

In a press released issued on August 3, 2021, the EEOC announced that a jury has awarded $500,000 in punitive damages in a discriminatory failure to promote case to a female sales manager at a Harley-Davidson. On August 20, 2018, the EEOC filed the gender discrimination lawsuit, U.S. E.E.O.C. v. Cigar Store Motors, Inc., Tallahassee CCM, LLC, Gulf Coast CCM, Inc., and Panama Beach City Cycles, LLC, Case No. 8:18-cv-02055, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division.

The EEOC brought the gender discrimination lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) on behalf of a former employee of Cigar Store Motors, Inc., Tallahassee CCM, LLC, Gulf Coast CCM, Inc., and Panama Beach City Cycles, LLC (collectively, CCM Companies), Virginia Duncan (Duncan). Under Title VII, discrimination against employees on the basis of gender is forbidden in all aspects of employment, including hiring, demotion, promotion, and discharge. The EEOC contends that Cigar Store Motors, Inc. (Cigar Store Motors) violated Title VII by failing to promote Duncan to the position of general manager because of her gender. According to the EEOC’s press release, the jury returned a unanimous verdict finding that Cigar Store Motors denied Duncan promotion because of her gender and awarded punitive damages in the amount of $500,000.

Discriminatory Failure To Promote Alleged

CCM Companies, which is based in Tampa, Florida, owns and operates several Harley-Davidson dealerships throughout Florida, including Cigar Store Motors. From March 2012 until June 2015, Duncan was employed by CCM Companies as a sales manager. When her employment with CCM Companies ended in June 2015, Duncan was the general sales manager at Cigar Store Motors in Tampa, Florida.

During her employment with CCM Companies, Duncan notified management of her desire for promotion to a general manager position. Based on her previous experience as a general manager at a Harley-Davidson dealership, according to the EEOC, Duncan was qualified for a general manager position. Although CCM Companies did not maintain a formal application process for promotion to a general manager position, Duncan was notified that she had to participate in a mentorship program in order to be promoted to a general manager position. In May 2013, Duncan started participating in the requisite mentorship program.

Female Worker Claims She Hit Glass Ceiling

The EEOC contends that during the time period from March 2012 and January 2015, there were nine vacancies for a general manager position at Harley-Davidson dealerships owned by CCM Companies. According to the EEOC, CCM Companies hired a male for each available general manager position. The EEOC contends that Duncan was as qualified, or more qualified, than each of the males that were selected for the general manager position. On at least two occasions, the EEOC maintains, Duncan was recommended as the best-qualified candidate for promotion by the departing general managers. The EEOC further alleges that none of the men who were promoted to the general manager position were told they had to participate in the mentorship program in order to be eligible for promotion to the general manager position.

In January 2015, the general manager position became available at Cigar Store Motors. CCM Companies temporarily filled the position with a male employee. Despite her qualifications and interest in the position, Duncan was not interviewed for the general manager position. In April 2015, CCM Companies promoted a male employee to the position. The EEOC maintains that Duncan was more qualified than the male employee for the general manager position. The same day that she was denied promotion to the general manager position, Duncan asked management whether she was not promoted because of her gender. Unsatisfied with the answer she received, Duncan resigned and began looking for other employment.

Lawyers For Discrimination Victims

The EEOC is the administrative agency of the federal government responsible for interpreting and enforcing federal employment discrimination law. In enforcing federal employment discrimination law, the EEOC files lawsuits in federal court on behalf of employment discrimination victims, including employees discriminated against on the basis of gender.

In a press release issued on August 3, 2021, regarding the case, a trial attorney for the EEOC, Brandi Meredith, observed that “this is a victory for women who work to prove themselves and break glass ceilings in male-dominated industries.” In commenting on the case, a regional attorney for the EEOC’s Miami District Office, Robert E. Weisberg, stated that “the jury’s verdict should serve as a wake-up call to the automotive industry, including Harley-Davidson dealerships, that they are not exempt from federal laws which make workplace sex discrimination unlawful.”

Marion County, FL Employment Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida, and representing workers throughout Central Florida, our Marion County, Florida employment attorneys have fought for the rights of employment discrimination victims for more than two decades. If you have experienced gender discrimination in the workplace or have questions about your protection from gender discrimination at work, please contact our office for a free consultation with our Ocala, Florida employment lawyers. Our employee rights law firm takes employment discrimination cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that there are no attorney’s fees incurred unless there is a recovery and our attorney’s fees come solely from the monetary award that you recover.

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