Harassment suit filed against dealership

Staff and wire reports

ALBUQUERQUE — A Portales car dealership has been named in a federal lawsuit in which four women say they were harassed while they worked at the company.
The allegations against Chuck Daggett Motors, now called Big Valley Auto, were made in the lawsuit by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Phone calls from the Portales News-Tribune to the dealership were not returned. Alva Carter Sr., a local dairy owner, co-owner of the dealership and member of the Eastern New Mexico University Board of Regents, said he learned of the lawsuit late Friday from media reports after returning from a dairy business trip in Boston.
Carter said the lawsuit was a shock, but he was reluctant to comment on it until after “I see the lawsuit and talk to our attorney.” He said he was unable to contact the dealership’s attorney this weekend.
“Big Valley Ford is not discriminating against anyone. We certainly do not discriminate against anybody, women or minorities or anyone. I don’t think I’ve got anything to be worried about,” he said.
Tammy Hulce and Michelle Reid were scorned and ridiculed for being pregnant while working at the Chrysler dealership, the EEOC alleged in court papers.
Marla Segovia and Joanne Richmond were subjected to sexist and anti-female remarks while they worked at the company, the lawsuit alleged.
The dealership also failed to pay medical insurance premiums for Richmond because of her gender, the EEOC alleged.
The women no longer work at the dealership, said Loretta Medina, an attorney for the EEOC.
The EEOC seeks back pay and other restitution for the women and possible reinstatement of Segovia and Reid to their jobs at the dealership.
The lawsuit wants a judge to order the dealership not to harass other employees because of gender and pregnancy.
The lawsuit also wants the court to order the dealership not to retaliate against employees if they complain about harassment.
The lawsuit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque after mediation attempts between the women and the dealership failed, Medina said.
‘‘We hope the filing of this lawsuit will deter this employer from further discriminating against any employees and will encourage other employers to establish harassment-free workplaces,’’ Medina said.
The EEOC alleged the harassment occurred from July 2000 to at least September 2001.
Carter Sr. owns 51 percent of the dealership; his two sons, Alan and Alva Jr., bought out Chuck Daggett of the remaining 49 percent in April.