CHARLESTON – A Kanawha County woman is suing Joe Holland Chevrolet after she claims the business was run like a frat house and she was discriminated against based on her gender.
Sammi King began her employment with JHC in 1995 and throughout the course of her employment, she was an exemplary employee, according to a complaint filed June 30 in Kanawha Circuit Court.
King claims on multiple occasions, she received awards and accolades for her superior job performance.
Throughout her time at JHC, and due directly to her sex and age, King was treated as a second class citizen and, despite her high level of professionalism, JHC was operated like a sexist frat house, resulting in a hostile work environment in which borderline criminal behavior was ignored, if not rewarded, provided the offending employee was male, according to the suit.
King claims during her tenure with JHC, a male employee contacted an underage daughter of a customer and offered to pay her to perform sexual acts on her also-underage same-sex friend while the male employee watched.
Despite being on notice of the male employee’s sexual overtures to the underage daughter of a customer, Joe Holland continued to employ the male employee, according to the suit.
King claims that JHC also employs a male who historically held parties for minors in his home and, after one such party, a parent accused the male of sexually molesting his teenage son, yet that male employee continues to work at JHC.
It was also common for male employees to drink alcohol and/or use illegal drugs during the work day as well and on multiple occasions, the male employees would argue in the showroom in front of customers and, on at least one occasion, a male employee threatened the physical safety of a customer and challenged the customer to a fight, according to the suit.
King claims Joey Holland, the president of JHC, personally fostered a “frat house” mentality and was openly hostile toward female employees.
On April 29, King’s cousin visited the dealership with his wife to purchase a vehicle and they requested King, according to the suit. Because she was off that day, another salesperson, David Shaw, made the sale.
King claims per JHC policy, because she was the originator of the sale, she was entitled to 50 percent of the commission of the sale.
On May 1, King inquired about her 50 percent share of the commission from the sale and Shaw became confrontational and refused to abide by the commission split, according to the suit.
King claims when she went to her supervisor, Scott Jarrett, to complain, he informed her that her pants were inappropriate, even though she had worn the pants countless times in the past with no issue. She was ordered to go home and change.
After King returned from changing her pants, she was summoned to a meeting, where she was informed she was being fired, according to the suit.
King claims JHC failed to provide a reason for her wrongful termination.
The plaintiff did not received her final pay check until May 20, according to the suit.
King claims the defendants violated the West Virginia Human Rights Act and the West Virginia Wage Payment and Collection Act.
King is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She is being represented by Kathy A. Brown of Kathy Brown Law; and Timothy D. Houston of Houston Law.
The case is assigned to Circuit Judge Carrie Webster.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 17-C-923