James Mitsubishi in Hamburg has agreed to pay $110,000 to two former female employees as part of a settlement of a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that alleged the dealership’s then-general manager subjected the employees to sexual harassment in 2018.
The settlement, announced by the EEOC, resolves a lawsuit filed in June 2020 that alleged that the general manager “made numerous unwelcome sexual advances and comments to two female employees” which included “repeated comments on their bodies and asked them to join him in his hotel room.”
The agency also alleged the general manager “engaged in inappropriate physical contact with the female employees, including giving unwelcome massages.”
In addition to the $110,000 in monetary damages to the former employees, the three-year consent decree, approved by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo, states that James Mitsubishi Hamburg and its parent company, James Cars, will modify its current sexual harassment policy to offer employees additional reporting options, including a toll-free, 24/7 complaint hotline.
The companies also agreed to issue a written disciplinary warning to the alleged harasser and provide him one-on-one sexual harassment prevention training.
One of the two employees quit in 2018 because the dealership took no action to stop the alleged actions, the EEOC said. The other employee also left that same year.
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination and violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
“Sexual harassment in the workplace, unfortunately, remains a widespread problem,” said Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the EEOC’s New York district office.
“The EEOC is committed to taking action against businesses that fail to protect their employees from unlawful harassment,” said Judy Keenan, director of the New York district office. “We commend these companies for agreeing to take concrete steps to protect their employees from sexual harassment, including providing targeted training and multiple avenues for reporting such misconduct.”
James Provenzano, the owner of James Mitsubishi and James Cars, could not be reached Tuesday morning.
The EEOC said it filed suit after being unable to reach a settlement with James Cars through its conciliation process.
Provenzano told The News in June 2020 that the general manager accused in the EEOC case no longer oversaw the Hamburg dealership but still worked for his company. He removed the general manager from his role in Hamburg in 2019, before the claims in the EEOC lawsuit surfaced, and that the change was unrelated to the allegations, he said then.
He said the company did not agree with the employee, saying, “We just haven’t been able to come to terms, you could say because it’s all about a monetary value. … We will certainly go to court over it.”
James Mitsubishi opened on Camp Road in early 2018. James Cars have multiple locations in upstate New York.