Jun 16, 2008
NASCAR Hit With Racial Discrimination ChargeBy JR Nerad
NASCAR cherishes its “family entertainment” image, so you can bet officials there are reaching for the Pepto-Bismol after former employee Mauricia Grant filed a $225 million racial discrimination and sexual harassment suit against the organization that fired her. Grant, an African American, was a technical inspector for NASCAR’s Nationwide series, and she claims she was ash-canned after she reported racial and sexually oriented incidents to her supervisor, but NASCAR chairman Brian France says that’s not true. He claimed that Grant didn’t report any of the incidents before her eventual dismissal, saying that it wasn’t until the suit was filed that NASCAR learned of the allegations.
In all, Grant’s suit specified 23 incidents of alleged sexual harassment and 34 incidents of alleged racial and gender discrimination. She claims the harassment and discrimination began immediately when she was hired and continued throughout her nearly three years of employment by NASCAR. The details of the allegations are particularly troubling. Grant’s suit claims she was referred to as “Nappy Headed Mo” and “Queen Sheba” by fellow NASCAR employees. She additionally alleged that co-workers often said she worked on “colored-people time.”
The sexual harassment issues the suit raised must prove equally troublesome to NASCAR. Her suit claimed that she was repeatedly propositioned by male co-workers and that two of those co-workers exposed themselves to her, not exactly the kind of behavior that is likely to play well with family audiences. (Also not the kind of behavior that is likely to land one a date.)
The allegations, if they can be believed, cut deep. The suit names 17 different NASCAR employees, 15 of whom are still with NASCAR. The racing organization has said it will conduct its own investigation of the charges, but the suit alleges that the NASCAR Human Resources department participated in the discrimination by first reprimanding her, in what she says was retaliation for the fact that she reported some of the incidents to her supervisor, and eventually, by firing her.Ironically, two key players in the controversy, Grant and Mike Wilford (who is of Hispanic heritage and was one of the alleged perpetrators), were employed by NASCAR as part of its “diversity” program aimed at ending its “lily-white” reputation. Now two of its hires have given it a bruised eye.
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