Lawsuit not Good for NASCAR Diversity Efforts

June 12, 2008 ( - NASCAR, which in recent years has announced efforts to increase its employment diversity, has been hit with a $225 million lawsuit alleging sexual harassment as well as race and gender discrimination.

Mauricia Grant, who is also charging the racing association with wrongful termination, said there was an “ongoing daily pattern” of harassment from her first day on the job until her firing in October of 2007, according to the Associated Press. In her lawsuit, Grant alleged she was referred to as “Nappy Headed Mo” and “Queen Sheba” by co-workers, often was told she worked on “colored people time,” and was frightened by one official who routinely made references to the Ku Klux Klan, the AP reports.

Grant alleged that one official told her that black people should “just get over the whole slavery thing.” In addition, Grant claims she was subjected to sexual advances from male co-workers, two of whom allegedly exposed themselves to her, and graphic and lewd jokes.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, lists 23 specific incidents of alleged sexual harassment and 34 specific incidents of alleged racial and gender discrimination beginning in January 2005, the news report said.

Grant worked as a technical inspector responsible for certifying cars in NASCAR’s second-tier Nationwide Series. She said she routinely complained to her supervisors, and two weeks after her final complaint, Grant said she was warned that she had engaged in “conduct unbecoming of a NASCAR representative” and would be fired unless she changed her behavior. Roughly two months later, NASCAR terminated her for poor work performance.

Grant said she has suffered from severe emotional distress since being fired, including depression, anxiety, nightmares, sleep disturbance, headaches and gastrointestinal problems. She is still unemployed.

In a separate news report, NASCAR chairman Brian France denied to the AP that Grant complained to her supervisors about racial and sexual discrimination. According to France, the lawsuit is the first the association has heard of the complaints.