The Appellate Court of Connecticut has declined to reinstate a gender and pregnancy discrimination suit by a service adviser who was fired by a Simsbury dealership for insubordination and creating a hostile work environment.
In its decision, the court said, "Although she had strong sales numbers and was a good salesperson in many respects, throughout her tenure (with Hoffman Honda) she demonstrated what colleagues and customers described as a 'poor attitude' and rudeness." It cited her six written warnings and three-day suspension for "substandard work, conduct, attitude and carelessness" after customers complained.
Hoffman Honda hired Janetta Marrero in 2010 and fired her in 2018 after multiple warnings about her rudeness and poor attitude, according to the decision, which noted the store's lengthy paper trail documenting her behavior.
Dealership attorney Carolyn Trotta of Hartford, Conn., said: "Hoffman Auto Group's meticulous approach to record-keeping and its commitment to proactive anti-discrimination policies serve as 'best practices' in this area of the law.
"By keeping accurate, thorough records, dealers can protect themselves from legal disputes and ensure compliance with legal standards," Trotta said.
Marrero was the store's only female service adviser at the time of termination, and the dealership hired a woman to replace her, according to court filings.
The day before her termination, her supervisor called her into his office to discuss her sales numbers and customer service. During the meeting, Marrero allegedly told the supervisor, "You have nothing on me," criticized his management, raised the fact she was pregnant and refused to leave the office for about an hour after being asked to do so, the court said.
A lower court judge dismissed the case without a trial.
In a unanimous July 25 ruling, the appellate court agreed with the dealership that Marrero failed to present sufficient evidence to support her gender bias claim. The fact that the supervisor went out for drinks with her male colleagues wasn't proof of an intention to discriminate based on gender, it said.
The court also said Hoffman Honda offered evidence — including performance reviews and testimony — that Marrero's behavior provided a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason to fire her.
"Performing some job duties well is not evidence that termination for other job deficiencies was a pretext for discrimination," the court said.
Marrero's lawyer did not respond to requests for comment.