A former finance and insurance manager has sued an Indiana dealership, alleging wrongful termination, retaliation and sex discrimination.
Mary Zipp's lawsuit, filed in federal court in Indiana on Sept. 5, seeks damages from John Jones Chevrolet-Buick of Corydon for alleged mental anguish and lost wages and benefits.
The discrimination and harassment were severe and pervasive, Zipp's suit alleges, creating "an intimidating, hostile, offensive and abusive working environment."
In a filing this year with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the dealership said it fired Zipp for a "documented pattern of tardiness, as well as absences" and failure to meet the store's attendance expectations.
The store hired Zipp in October 2020; she was its only F&I employee.
She received three disciplinary reports for lack of punctuality, and "in the months following her final warning, missed two days without notice and arrived late 26 out of 43 of her workdays," the EEOC filing said, culminating in her December 2022 firing.
F&I managers' "punctuality and attendance are distinctively important to the efficiency of a dealership," the filing said. "Shortcomings in F&I have a unique capacity to negatively reverberate throughout a dealership and derail efficient operation."
Zipp's suit alleges she was subjected to unwanted sexual advances and "sexually inappropriate" comments, photographs, memes and a video, some of them sent by male employees in group chats.
The suit quotes two comments allegedly made by a sales manager and says she was suspended without pay after complaining to the store's vice president, who allegedly responded that the sales manager "makes us too much money. That is not a terminable offense."
Zipp said the sales manager later came to her office and showed her a screenshot from a "video of him masturbating in the company bathroom." When she told the vice president about the video, "he finally made the decision to terminate the supervisor's employment," according to the suit.
The EEOC filing said the dealership investigated the incident on the first business day after she reported it and fired the sales manager soon afterward for "gross misconduct."
The suit also says the dealership required male staff to wear dealership-branded clothes, while telling female staff to wear "form-fitting dresses or pants." In addition, it claims John Jones Chevrolet-Buick paid Zipp less than her male counterparts for the same or similar work. However, the store's EEOC filing said no men were performing similar work.
A defense lawyer said the suit has no merit, and the dealership will vigorously fight it.