A Black finance manager of a Subaru dealership in Oregon has filed a federal lawsuit against the dealership’s former general manager over alleged racism and discrimination in the workplace.
On Wednesday, the employee, Tobias Ray, filed the suit over claims that former General Manager Tony Jimenez subjected him to disturbing racist remarks and discriminatory treatment, Oregon Live reports.
The suit comes after Ray submitted a written complaint to his employer on On Oct. 30, 2020, and took part in an internal investigation that determined his complaints were valid.
Ray has worked at Lithia SOC, doing business as Lithia Subaru of Oregon City, since 2018. But in 2020, following the murder of George Floyd, Ray says Jimenez’ sent a sexually suggestive and racially insensitive photo text message to a select group of employees.
On June 15, 2020, the photo Jimenez shared showed a nude white man lying in the lap of a naked Black woman whose breasts covered his face. “This white man cant (sic) brethe. But you won’t see that on the news,” the message read.
That same month, Ray went into the dealership’s breakroom and noticed a racist image drawn on the whiteboard. It depicted a stick figure with an Afro hairstyle with the caption, “I love watermelon.”
Ray became aware of other text messages Jimenez sent to the dealership’s general sales manager, Corey Fay, and Lithia’s sales manager, Ryan Vaughan, showing images of Ray dressed in casual attire on his day off.
Jimenez likened Ray to a character from the film New Jack City. Vaughn agreed, saying that if the lights were turned off in the office, they wouldn’t be able to see Ray.
In another encounter, Jimenez reportedly passed a client along to Ray by the name of Rodney King. Jimenez told Ray to ask the customer, “Can’t we all just get along?” Once the customer was gone, Jimenez asked if the customer was “slow” and suggested he had been “hit in the head with a club one too many times,” the lawsuit states.
Ray’s suit claims that after the internal investigation, Jimenez faced no disciplinary action, Daily Mail reports. He seeks unspecified damages for lost earnings, lost advancement, and emotional distress.