Boston, Massachusetts, USA. (SANEPR.com) August 29, 2007 -- Associated Press
A high volume Massachusetts Toyota Motors Dealership has been charged with Sexual Harassment & Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation and is being sued by a Former Toyota Employee.
Phillip Daggett, 28 of Fall River, MA is a former Sales & Leasing Consultant of Route 44 Toyota in Raynham, MA. Mr. Daggett has brought forward charges against Toyota after he states that he was harassed and discriminated against because of his sexual orientation. The charges were brought before the MCAD, Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, in Boston, MA when Mr. Daggett said that after several attempts to have the harassment stop, it did not. The harassment had come from both his coworkers and managers of the dealership and ranged from name calling, teasing and taunting, threats, and other activities both witnessed by his customers and other coworkers which ultimately affected his sales and performance.
Mr. Daggett said that the incidents all started taking place in June of 2007 when he was asked by a coworker if he had ever worked in a gay bar. Daggett denied this not knowing the employees reason for asking. When he dug in more he had found out that his coworkers and managers had googled him as he was recognized from an incident that attracted worldwide media attention a year ago.
On February 2nd, 2006 Phillip Daggett had worked as a bartender for Puzzles Lounge in New Bedford, MA when an 18 year old man, Jacob Robida, came into the bar armed with a hatchet and a handgun and launched an attack on the patrons of the bar, severely injuring three people, all because they were gay. Daggett assisted people in the bar to get to safety when he came face to face with Jacob Robida who pointed the gun at Daggett's head and pulled the trigger. Luckily for Daggett Robida's gun had been out of bullets. Robida then fled to Arkansas with a female companion. When he was stopped by police officer Jim Sell in a routine traffic stop Robida shot and killed the officer. He then led police on a 15 mile pursuit which ended in a shootout between Robida and the police. Robida shot and killed his female travel companion, Jennifer Bailey, and then took his own life with a self inflicted gunshot wound to his head. Daggett later played a role standing along side City Councilman Joe DeMedeiros before the New Bedford City Council on February 10th to pass a bill declaring New Bedford a "Hate Free Zone". He also launched a fund for the victims of the attack assisting with medical bills and the cost of living which had been negatively impacted as a result of the attack. Daggett was in the headlines for months following this attack.
In one of the incidents reported by Mr. Daggett he said that his business cards were altered by a coworker who had replaced the "D" in his last name (Daggett) to an "F" (Faggett). He also states that he was paged over the dealerships intercom system, well heard inside and outside of the dealership, "Phillip Faggett to the showroom for customer assistance" by one of his coworkers upon a customer’s arrival to see Mr. Daggett at the dealership. Mr. Daggett also states that on an almost daily basis he would be referred to by his coworkers as "Daggett Faggett" or "Phillip Faggett". He said that they would say this and laugh about it even though he asked many times for them not stop.
On many occasions Daggett reported that he had gone to management to address his concerns and that nothing had been done about it. He said that the managers would tell him to get "thick skin" and to deal with it if he wanted to work there and make good money. On one occasion Daggett had reported that he was told by a manager "whether you are or are not gay is your business, but me and a lot of other guys here are family men and come from good Christian backgrounds. I believe that being gay is a mortal sin and people like that will have their day and burn in hell." This statement Daggett says came from his immediate supervisor at Toyota. This same manager on another reported incident had degraded Mr. Daggett in front of his customer when he yelled at him, threatened to fire him, and told him "you are in the same class as a female, you are too weak and emotional, and this is why you do not see many girls at all in this business."
When Phillip Daggett had been late to a sales meeting in June 2007 he reported that he was told by a manager to get into the back of a pickup truck in the dealerships lot, he did so. The manager then allegedly told Mr. Daggett to sing and dance to the children's song "I'm A Little Teapot" In front of more than twenty coworkers and also a handful of customers. Daggett refused, but was told by this manager that if he did not do it that he would not be allowed to sell a car until he did. So he sang, as all of his peers stood around watching and laughing. Daggett says that he was teased for weeks about this incident by his coworkers.
In Mr. Daggett's complaint it also alleges that another manager referred to him as a "pansy" and a "fucking queer" in the presence of another customer. This customer reportedly left the dealership and did not return to buy a car. These attacks at Mr. Daggett had continued until he felt as though with nothing being done about it he sought the advice of an attorney, Doug Surprenant from Holbrook, MA. Doug Surprenant filed the charges against Route 44 Toyota with the MCAD on August 20th, 2007.
After Route 44 Toyota had learned that Daggett had retained an attorney and was pursuing charges against them they asked of him to resign, in which he did not do immediately. He continued working at the dealership as it was his only source of financial security and hoped that things would get better and that management would finally do something about it, but they did not. Daggett says that the harassment still continued and that management not only suggested that he resign, but also that he drop everything because "people have families to put food on the table for and roofs to keep over their heads, are you really going to let some name calling and teasing ruin the reputation of the dealership?" This was said to him by the General Manager of the Toyota Dealership. The pressure and harassment continued Daggett said until he felt he had no other choice but to resign.
In his statement issued to the MCAD Phillip Daggett had reported dozens of incidents that took place during the course of his employment with Toyota. Daggett states that both the management and owners of the dealership were informed of these incidents and took no corrective action against any of its employees or management. Daggett believes that the managers and coworkers fed on his anger and depression caused by the incidents and continued to harass him knowing that they were not in any trouble for doing it. Mr. Daggett expressed that the dealership should have had someone that you could go to that would take these matters seriously and not allow it to continue any further and says that in the course of his employment that there has never been any training or in-services on harassment, not even following his complaint with the MCAD.
A press liaison for the MCAD in Boston, MA confirms the case has been filed and said that they will begin the discovery stages once they obtain Toyota's response to the charges. They expect to have a resolution in less than a year’s time, but that there is a process involved including the potential for a public hearing if a settlement is not reached and agreed upon by both parties.
For more information about this story please contact:
Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination
One Ashburton Place
Sixth Floor, Room 601
Boston, MA 02108
By email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Attorney Doug Surprenant
40 South Franklin Street
Holbrook, MA 02343
Route 44 Toyota
1154 New State Highway
Raynham, MA 02767