Software vendor DealerTrack Inc. and its holding company are facing a federal lawsuit for alleged race discrimination filed by two former employees.
In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Tampa in January, plaintiffs Theta Williams and her son Tremain Exford contend that they were hired to install DealerTracker's dealership management software, an entry-level position, but were denied higher positions at the company because of their race.
Williams, hired in February 2009, alleges in the complaint that she applied for 16 management or supervisory positions during her employment at DealerTrack and that she was given only one 10-minute interview. All the positions were filled with white employees who were less qualified, according to the lawsuit.
Exford, who was hired in November 2008, applied for nearly 20 management or supervisory positions, and each position was given to a less-qualified, white employee, the suit contends. At least two of the white employees who were promoted regularly came to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the lawsuit says.
The plaintiffs also claim in their suit that there were other forms of racial discrimination in the workplace, including comments from co-workers that they perceived as belittling and racially insensitive.
Exford was fired in November 2010, and Williams resigned in June 2011.
Williams also filed a discrimination case with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in March 2011. No ruling has been issued in that case, the lawsuit said.
DealerTrack wrote in an e-mailed statement that it wouldn't comment on past employees, but that it believes the defendants' claims do not have merit.
"DealerTrack does not tolerate discrimination, harassment or retaliation in any matter," the company wrote in the statement. "We value each of our employees. Indeed, we are committed to maintaining a workplace free from discrimination."
In DealerTrack's answer to the complaint, the company acknowledges that Williams reported some of her concerns in 2010, but that few, if any, were identified as race-based, according to court documents.
"We always encourage employees to raise concerns they may have, and we provide a variety of avenues for them to do so," DealerTrack wrote in the statement. "Where discrimination is alleged, we conduct a thorough investigation."
DealerTrack wrote that is has not found any evidence of discrimination or retaliation in the workplace.
The plaintiffs are seeking a variety of remedies from DealerTrack, including back pay, employment benefits, compensatory damages and punitive damages. The parties have agreed to a mediation conference on Oct. 22.