A former car dealership employee in North Carolina is accusing the company of dishing out 'hostile racial harassment' to Black employees

Sarah Al-Arshani
·3 min read
car dealership
Joshua Lott/Reuters
  • A former employee filed a lawsuit against a North Carolina car dealership over racist treatment.

  • Lance Blair said black employees were the subjects of "hostile racial harassment" from 2014 to 2020. 

  • Blair quit in 2020 after his health declined due to the harassment, the complaint said. 

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

A former employee of a North Carolina car dealership is accusing the company of dishing out "hostile racial harassment" to Black employees. 

In a complaint, Lance Blair, a former assistant manager at Hendrick Toyota in Concord, North Carolina, said he resigned because of the racially charged comments.

Blair said the harassment began in 2014 from the shop foreman of the service department, Phil St. George, and that it was tolerated by the service manager, Tim Hays. Both men are white.

In the complaint, Blair says St. George made monkey noises at him and called him a "tint meter" to suggest that his skin color be used to measure the legal level of window tinting. He also said a Black employee who was injured at the shop would not show any bruises because he was a "darkie," according to the complaint. 

In 2019, St. George started throwing his banana peels at Blair whenever he came near the food waste container, "suggesting Plaintiff was a monkey," the complaint added.

He also mocked Blair by putting altered versions of his photo on the screen saver of a computer used in the service area. In one photo, he "blackened out one or more teeth and drew gold earrings to make him look like a thug; and another time drew a hat to make him look like a Muslim," the complaint read. 

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Another Black manager, Vince Davis, saw this and reported the incidents to Hays, who dismissed the remarks by saying that some "people are just racist," the complaint said. 

St. George continued to harass Blair and in March 2020 other employees were so concerned after he dangled an entire banana in Blair's face that they asked St. George to stop. 

St. George also showed Blair insensitive memes of prominent Black figures like Colin Kaepernick and said if the brother of another employee was to be hired, he'd call them the "mocha twins."

The lack of discipline St. George faced over the complaints "seemed to give others license to make racial comments," the complaint said, alleging other white employees began making racially motivated jokes, specifically about Black men who were killed, including George Floyd and Jacob Blake. 

The complaint said Blair had "internalized his humiliation over the mistreatment: and his health began to decline and he eventually needed blood pressure medication."

Blair quit in September 2020, after Hays yelled at him for going directly to HR and accused him of "stirring up trouble." 

Hendrick Toyota did not respond to Insider's request for comment but told WBTV that St. George was fired following an investigation in October 2020. 

"Discrimination in any form is wrong and unacceptable. A core value of our dealership is mutual respect for and among all of our team members. It is our practice to take seriously, thoroughly investigate and swiftly address reports of discrimination. That process was followed in this matter," the dealership said in a statement to WBTV.

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