Tobias Ray, finance manager at Lithia Subaru of Oregon City, named both the former general manager and the Oregon dealership in the suit filed Wednesday. The suit alleges their treatment of Ray, who is Black, violated the Oregon Equality Act and the Civil Rights acts of 1866 and 1964.
Ray began working at the dealership in October 2018. The suit alleges then-General Manager Tony Jimenez sent a sexually and racially explicit text message to select employees in June 2020.
The message showed a Black woman's breasts lying on a white man's neck and face with the caption "This white man can't breathe. But you won't see that on the news," according to the suit.
The message came just weeks after the video recorded killing of George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis after a police officer knelt on his neck for over eight minutes.
In another incident, in June 2020, Ray walked into the public break room to see a stick figure drawing on a whiteboard with an Afro hairstyle and the caption, "I love watermelon," according to the lawsuit.
That August, the lawsuit claimed, Jiminez asked Ray to handle the financials for a client named "Rodney King" and told him to ask the customer, "Can't we all just get along?" He also asked whether the customer appeared "slow," as if they had been "hit in the head with a club one too many times," in reference to the beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers in 1991.
The lawsuit also alleges Jimenez sent a series of racially insensitive text messages to other managers that referenced "several different African American celebrities/characters in connection to Ray as an African American employee." The references included the late musician Tupac Shakur and the predominantly Black cast of the 1991 crime thriller New Jack City, the suit said.