DENVER - A gay-and-lesbian legal group has filed a discrimination lawsuit against Cherry Creek Dodge, alleging the dealership unfairly fired a service manager who is homosexual.
The Colorado Legal Initiatives Project filed the suit in Denver District Court on behalf of Dan Anderson, a dealership service manager who was fired last fall.
In the lawsuit, Anderson alleges he was subjected to anti-gay epithets by co-workers and Cherry Creek Dodge's owner and operator, Doug Moreland.
The lawsuit seeks back pay and other unspecified damages. Anderson made about $65,000 a year at the dealership, but has since found it difficult to find comparable work, his attorneys said.
Moreland, who has nine Colorado dealerships and one each in Illinois, California, Nevada and Arizona, called the accusations 'totally unfounded' and a first for his dealerships.
He said Anderson, who was hired in January 1995, was fired because of poor job performance. Moreland said Anderson never complained of discrimination before he was fired.
'He was terminated for one reason and one reason only: incompetent job performance. He didn't do the job he was hired to do after giving him well over a year,' Moreland said.
Moreland said the dealership had to write off a $100,000 computer error, allegedly made by Anderson, in its service department. Moreland also accused Anderson of paying mechanics for unauthorized work.
Moreland said he would fight the case 'with every dollar I have.
'Our policy is we will not tolerate any discrimination: sex, race, creed, color, sexual preference; we don't care,' he said.
Moreland said he knew of Anderson's homosexuality when he hired him from a dealership in Las Vegas.
He said to the best of his knowledge, none of his managers ever made inappropriate comments to Anderson.
The lawsuit contends dealership employees wrote epithets on bathroom walls and wore anti-gay T-shirts directed at Anderson.
'It bears all the hallmarks of unremedied sexual harassment,' said Julie Tolleson, managing attorney for the legal group.
Under Denver ordinance, employment discrimination based on sexual orientation is prohibited.