Cole had been working at Brogden since 2015, according to her suit, and had worked with the general manager before he assumed the role in 2020. Cole warned the owner of the dealership of some of the general manager's past behaviors, the suit said. Upon learning of Cole's report, the general manager became "very confrontational" and belittled her. The lawsuit said the dealership's upper management witnessed the confrontation but "allowed it to continue unabated."
According to the suit, Cole witnessed the general manager verbally and emotionally abuse fellow employees, most often Black and female workers. Cole also claimed that the general manager would use illegal substances — including cocaine and marijuana — on company property. Cole reported the abusive behavior and the illegal substances to management, but the lawsuit said management never took action.
The suit also claims Cole "learned first hand" that the general manager was stealing customers' cash deposits. The general manager would either blame other employees for the missing funds or instruct Cole to "just write it off." Cole reported this to upper management, but no action was taken, according to the suit.
In 2021, the general manager allegedly told Cole that he "didn't like to fire anyone but preferred instead to just make them so miserable through abuse and unrealistic workload that they would choose to quit."
Cole also said in the lawsuit the general manager hired a personal friend to work in the finance department despite him not having any finance experience. According to the suit, the general manager would direct the employee to alter customers' contracts after they had already purchased their vehicles and would often forge signatures on the new contracts.
In September, Cole contracted COVID-pneumonia and went on medical leave for six weeks. During this time, the general manager allegedly broke into Cole's office and told a witness that he was trying to see whether Cole had "any dirt on him," according to the suit.
The suit alleges Cole emailed upper management expressing her objections and upper management responded saying they accepted her resignation. Cole called upper management to inform them she wasn't resigning, but a manager told Cole it was his decision to terminate her because of her multiple complaints against the general manager — who he claimed was "making us money — that's what's important."