Pitre Inc. settles EEOC suit for $2 million plus - Albuquerque Journal

Pitre Inc. settles EEOC suit for $2 million plus

eeoclogo

Albuquerque car dealership Pitre Inc. has agreed to settle a same-sex sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for more than $2 million and a consent decree — the largest litigation settlement in the history of the EEOC’s Albuquerque area office.

Pitre’s attorney Sam Bregman said the settlement was not an admission of liability, but rather “a business decision.”

In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that a former lot manager and a general manager at the Eagle Ranch Road dealership subjected a class of men to egregious forms of sexual harassment over 10 years, which included shocking sexual comments, frequent solicitations for oral sex, and regular touching, grabbing and biting of male workers. The EEOC said its court action — filed in the fall of 2011 — also alleged that Pitre retaliated against male employees who objected to the sexually hostile work environment.

More than 50 men are expected to receive relief through the decree, according to the EEOC.

Bregman said Tuesday that the case involved “a lot of wild allegations … that simply aren’t true.” The decree stipulates that Pitre denies the allegations in the lawsuit.

“It was a business decision as far as the extensive, ongoing litigation,” he said. “(It was) just to put this matter behind the dealership, although we are very emphatic that Pitre Buick is a good place to work.”

At one point as the lawsuit was pending, a U.S. District Court judge granted a preliminary injunction against Pitre, prohibiting the dealership and all of its agents from threatening or engaging in retaliatory actions against case participants, the EEOC said. The lawsuit was filed after unsuccessful attempts to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The lot attendant at the center of the charges, James Gallegos, often was encouraged by management to harass other employees, the EEOC said. The lawsuit said the harassment continued even after the company reprimanded Gallegos, who was fired in 2010.

The original complaint said “newly hired employees were subjected to a car wash initiation that entailed forcing the new employee to ride in a locked vehicle through defendant’s car wash … while Gallegos exposed his genitals and attempted to grope and/or touch the new employee in a sexual manner.”

The lawsuit said multiple managers — including sales, service and human resources — “knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known, of the hostile work environment created by Gallegos.”

Home » Business » Most Recent Biz News » Pitre Inc. settles EEOC suit for $2 million plus


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Water worries
ABQnews Seeker
Ash, debris from burned trees threaten ... Ash, debris from burned trees threaten acequias
2
US Marshals in ABQ shoot, kill fugitive who left ...
ABQnews Seeker
Investigators say man was armed with ... Investigators say man was armed with gun
3
Governor appoints new IT secretary
ABQnews Seeker
New Mexico hoping for broadband expansion ... New Mexico hoping for broadband expansion to rural areas
4
Freedom 4th Celebration is back in ABQ after absence
ABQnews Seeker
Thanks to generous amounts of recent ... Thanks to generous amounts of recent rainfall, the grass is lush and green at Balloon ...
5
Rains ease drought, but flooding threats loom
ABQnews Seeker
Some portions of state received over ... Some portions of state received over half their typical average rainfall
6
More support sought for early childhood education
ABQnews Seeker
Land Grant Permanent fund would be ... Land Grant Permanent fund would be drawn on
7
Sunday shooting deaths of husband, wife will be investigated ...
ABQnews Seeker
Son had been charged with killing ... Son had been charged with killing father; father suspected of killin
8
Court filing: Phone seized from Trump lawyer
ABQnews Seeker
John Eastman, who lives in Santa ... John Eastman, who lives in Santa Fe, says contents are privileged, demands return
9
Lujan Grisham issues order aimed at shielding abortion access ...
ABQnews Seeker
Action taken as NM abortion providers ... Action taken as NM abortion providers brace for influx of out-of-state patients