Mauricia Grant, an African-American female, filed a $225 million suit against NASCAR based on multiple counts of sexual harassment and discrimination before she was fired last October. In other news, an African-American woman worked for NASCAR?
The knee-jerk reaction to the suit conjures up the lyrics to the old Dukes of Hazard theme. Just some good ol’ boys, and so forth. But the pending litigation shows just how far the Southern-based racing league has been pushed into a big-city spotlight.
From the AP:
Grant, who is black, claims her October 2007 firing was retaliation for complaining about the way she was treated on the job from her January 2005 hiring.
NASCAR sent a team of investigators from its human resources and legal offices to Kentucky and did 27 interviews away from the track Thursday and Friday. Knox and Moore were found to have possibly engaged in behavior that violated NASCAR policy.
Grant’s suit accuses both men of exposing themselves to her.
Each man allegedly did so in different hotel rooms in two separate instances. The two men in question, Tim Knox and Bud Moore, have been placed on administrative leave. NASCAR says that Grant never reported the incidents to them, and they have launched an investigation of their own, using personnel from their HR and legal departments.
“Obviously we found some violations in our policy, but I would not jump to conclusions to assume that all of the allegations that were made are accurate,” [NASCAR chairman Brian] France said at Michigan International Speedway, site of Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series race.
“We would have investigated this claim instantly, if it had been brought to our attention. She chose to make this about money and about a lawsuit, and we’ll deal with that,” France said. “So far, we have found she just didn’t report anything to anybody. Quite the opposite. She was very pleased with her colleagues, and most of her comments that we have heard were that she liked her job, enjoyed being there, liked the camaraderie of the other officials.”
France also said that his email address was available for direct contact at the time the alleged incidents took place.
It wasn’t long ago where NASCAR was some cute little redneck afterthought to most of America. Now, they’re involved in a case on par with Anucha Browne Sanders’ conquest of the New York Knicks. It’s a bizarre reminder of how big NASCAR’s business has become.
I smell settlement; NASCAR can’t afford to disenfranchise its African-American fanbase like this. If this is dragged out in court, both of them might stop watching.