CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Rizza Cadillac to pay $100K in discrimination case

Tinley Park's Rizza Cadillac will pay $100,000 in a discrimination case. (Gregory Pratt, Chicago Tribune)

By Gregory Pratt, Tribune reporter

9:55 a.m. CDT, June 29, 2014

Tinley Park car dealership Rizza Buick GMC Cadillac, Inc. must pay $100,000 to resolve a religious discrimination lawsuit, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced.

Under the terms of a federal consent decree, Rizza Cadillac will be required to submit periodic reports to the EEOC about discrimination complaints and provide training to employees about compliance with the Civil Rights Act, the EEOC said in a news release.

The lawsuit, filed in September, alleged that Rizza Cadillac violated the Civil Rights Act “by subjecting three Arab Muslim employees to a hostile work environment based upon their national origin and religion,” the EEOC said.

“What we found was that Rizza’s managers allegedly used offensive slurs, such as ‘terrorist,’ … and ‘Hezbollah,’ and made mocking and insulting references to the Qur’an and the manner in which Muslims pray,” John Rowe, who supervised the EEOC’s pre-suit administrative investigation, said in a statement.

Rowe is also director of the agency’s Chicago District Office.

John Hendrickson, an attorney with the EEOC, added in the press release that “such hostile conduct is both the worst type of negative stereotyping on the basis of national origin and religion and exactly what Title VII (of the Civil Rights Act) was designed to remedy.”

“Protecting all employees — whether Arab or Muslim or any other national origin or religion — from such harassment is at the heart of our statutory mission.”

The EEOC hailed Rizza for agreeing to the restrictions. An attorney for Rizza did not return a message.

The federal consent decree approved by a federal judge notes that “no party admits the claims or defenses of any other party.”

In its own press release, the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said the three employees “experienced extreme harassment.”

CAIR’s Chicago Litigation Director, Kevin Vodak, said the non-profit is pleased by the resolution.

“The consent decree not only affords relief for the victims but institutes substantial measures in an attempt to prevent any discrimination or harassment in the future,” Vodak said.

The original article can be viewed here.