Mesa auto dealer accused of discrimination
The Arizona Republic
May. 28, 2005

Justin Juozapavicius


A Mesa auto dealer refused to promote an employee to a finance manager position because he had a Nigerian accent, a lawsuit filed Friday by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's Phoenix office alleges.

The national origin discrimination suit claims that Brown & Brown Chevrolet, which is owned by AutoNation Inc., refused to promote Omagbitse Jagha to the position even though he spoke fluent English and capably handled his duties as a sales associate.

Jagha, who worked for Brown & Brown, 145 E. Main St., for two years, resigned in 2002. He now works at a car dealership in Fontana, Calif.
The suit seeks more than $300,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, back pay with prejudgment interest and an injunction against AutoNation prohibiting the company from "engaging in future discriminatory practices."

"It looks like the managers need some training in what national origin discrimination is," said Mary Jo O'Neill, regional attorney for the U.S. EEOC. "That it's illegal."

Marc Cannon, AutoNation vice president of corporate communications, promised the company would "vigorously defend" itself.

"Just because somebody alleges something, doesn't mean it's true," said Cannon, based in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Brown & Brown's Nissan dealership at 1701 W. Broadway is expected to relocate to the Chandler auto mall.

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