Car dealer settles discrimination suits

Thursday, December 12, 2002 By Torsten Ove, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

A former Greensburg auto dealer has agreed to pay more than $500,000 to settle a series of federal race discrimination suits brought by three former salesmen and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The exact amount is secret because of a confidentiality agreement with one of the plaintiffs, but the amount is at least $535,000.

The first suit involved Edward E. Day, a black salesman from Jeannette who last year sued Ford of Greensburg on Route 30, saying he was constantly insulted at the dealership.

When he complained, he said, his supervisors told him the company policy was for managers not to get involved in disputes between salesmen.

A second black salesman, Jeffrey Wilson of Johnstown, also filed suit for similar reasons.

The EEOC filed its own suit against the dealership, citing the Day and Wilson complaints.

Earlier this year, Joseph R. Cavallo of Greensburg, also sued. Cavallo, who is white, said in his complaint that he was fired in 2000 because he had complained about how other employees treated Day and Wilson.

The suits by the salesmen were settled last week by their lawyer, Sam Cordes, and representatives for Bill Owens, who owned Ford of Greensburg before selling it to Tom Clark. The dealership is now called Tom Clark Ford, and most of the management at the former Ford of Greensburg has moved to Toyota of Greensburg, which is still owned by Owens.

Cordes said the total settlement amount cannot be revealed because of a confidentiality agreement with Cavallo, who was not part of the EEOC complaint as were Day and Wilson.

The EEOC suit has also been settled, with Owens' dealership agreeing to enter into a consent decree that will require him to hold racial sensitivity training for his employees.

U.S. District Judge Gary Lancaster still has to sign the consent decree.