The Frontstretch: An Honest Assessment of the Discrimination Lawsuit by Jeff Meyer -- Thursday June 19, 2008

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An Honest Assessment of the Discrimination Lawsuit

Voices From the Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Thursday June 19, 2008

 

As much as Brian France would like to fuggiddaboutit, it is well known throughout the racing world that NASCAR is now facing a huge, multimillion dollar lawsuit claiming, among other things, sexual harassment and racial discrimination. The suit is being brought on by one Mauricia Grant, or “Mo” as she is more commonly called. “Mo” was a NASCAR Official in the now Nationwide Series for about two-and-a-half years — from 2005 until her termination in 2007 — and “Mo” is a 32-year-old Afro-American female. Those are all facts.

Now, before I get to far along in all this, I want to say that I have read the 43-page lawsuit in it’s entirety and I have read Mo’s comments from her first face-to-face interview since filing the lawsuit. I am not writing this to proclaim guilt or innocence upon anyone involved; I am merely sharing with you some of the questions and concerns that I have after reading all the material. (Due to space limitations, I cannot possibly list all the accusations here. I strongly urge you to read the material yourself at the links provided — especially the lawsuit — so you have some sort of sense as to just what the heck I am rambling on about. As an added bonus, I will tell you that the lawsuit is uncensored and contains language that my editors are constantly cutting from my articles, despite my claims that you, the reader, prefer that sort of thing).

With that in mind, I offer these ponderings or pontifications from the viewpoint of not only a writer, but also my experience from working in a large corporation under the HR dept., from my experiences at working factories and mostly male jobs; and, perhaps more aptly, from the viewpoint of a regular, Midwestern Joe who likes stock car racing.

Mauricia Grant worked as a Nationwide Series official from January 2005 – October 2007; now, she’s working on a lawsuit that threatens to cause serious problems for her former employer.

To begin with, one thing that sticks in my mind is the fact that, in the suit, Grant made numerous references that many of the “incidents” didn’t just happen at the track, but at the pool, at dinner, and/or other social gatherings that she was invited to — or in which she was a willing participant. This leads me to think that IF the conditions were so bad, why was she hanging out socially with these guys? If they did not like her, and she did not like them, why were there so many opportunities? Why was she invited to activities OUTSIDE of work that became the cause for her to be offended?

Yes, NASCAR may be mostly a guy’s world; but even so, in today’s age, I don’t care who you are or where you work, guys in general are NOT going to be that blatant if they don’t consider you “one of the gang” and are confident that you can take it knowing that no real offense is meant. This is a sue happy society we live in — EVERYONE knows that. If she was THAT unhappy, there are other agencies to go to if you get no action from your superiors; especially in cases supposedly as bad as hers. She was there a long time. She was one of the gang, at least from their perception, a perception that she seemed to enjoy and one that she seemed to perpetuate.

Another thing that seems a bit odd to me after reading her comments during the interview is the fact that she was persuaded to keep a written “log” of perceived wrongs at the behest of her sisters. Now, “Mo” claims that she did not intend to “set up” NASCAR for this lawsuit, but I ask you this; isn’t the whole purpose of a “log” of every little perceived wrong — a written archive to fall back on IF you should need it later — done to prove something? Is there not intent implied by its very existence? It’s not like she was writing in her diary. No, she was given a pen and paper (or spreadsheet in this case) and told by others basically… “Hey, that is wrong! You need to keep track of that so we can use it later if we have to.”

No, something went wrong and pissed her off, and now we have a lawsuit against a plaintiff with deep pockets. Not only that, it appears that whatever “anguish” and
“suffering” she is having right now, 225 million dollars will make it all better. (It sure as hell would cure me of being offended or discriminated against!)

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not totally dismissing the guys’ behavior either, especially the higher ups. They, as executives should have NEVER joined in the joking AND should have put a stop to it, or at least have told the guys to tone it down around them as they are in a position of authority and represent the company.

No, there is more to the story than we know or are likely to ever find out. I do not think she would win in a trial, especially with the caliber of money grubbing scum… I mean, lawyers, that NASCAR can afford. But I think she does not want a trial; NASCAR will more than likely settle out of court. She’ll gets a few million with the stipulation she keeps her mouth shut from now on, and she’ll go away. NASCAR sweeps it all under the rug, avoiding a long drawn out process that, even in victory, will surely hurt the way in which the company is perceived; and a few lawyers will go out and build expensive houses in stupid locations that some natural disaster will destroy and then they will sue God, because God should have told them that that might happen!

Like I said, I am not stating the guilt or innocence of anyone, but I guess I am calling into question the motive of the lawsuit. That to me, seems a bit suspicious.

Stay off the wall,

Jeff Meyer

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Douglas
06/19/2008 08:32 AM
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Well, for someone that claims to “know” corporate life, you sure missed the boat on this one!

First, if your an “employee”, you generally are expected to attend various company functions and be somewhat sociable. By not attending these type activities you send the signal your “anti-social”
and your career is then in the tank!

So, simply going to these functions is not an open door for being the brunt of jokes and such. A true case of “damned if you do! Damned if you don’t”!

And of course there is always the optimism that things will be good!

And it is not unusual, that having been “exposed”, sorry for the pun, to the various banter along the way, that a smart person would indeed start taking notes along the way. In my experience in Corporate Management, first question I would ask is “when, who, where, what time”?? Give me some details to work with! Oh, you have some notes? GREAT!

What it looks like you are trying to say, that at the very first hint of a problem she should have just quit and gone elsewhere to work!

WRONG!!

And please also remember, it is the FEW! (of her co-workers), not the majority, that caused the problems!

Jeff Meyer
06/19/2008 10:26 AM
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Douglas,
Hanging out at the hotel pool. Going to dinner with the guys. Ordering pizza with them. No, NOT company functions.
If it is being paid for by the company, then MAYBE there is some expectation of participation.
What I do on my own time is my business. If I want to hang and party with co-workers fine, if not, that does not make me anti-social. Alot of the incidents alleged happened during non-company time.
I am expected to do my job. Any judgement of me based on how I spend my personal time, whether socially with you or not, is wrong on your part.

Eric
06/19/2008 12:57 PM
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I work in management for a large global company. Whether it’s paid for or not, if there is a social gathering you have to be seen as being a part of it or your career will suffer. Even though we have procedures and policies for advancement, the reality is you have to attend these stupid social events to move up. Douglas is exactly right, you don’t seem to be as informed as you think. Just because a few have “worked” the system to get a payoff, there are still a lot of people out there trying to get justice in the workplace. And Joe, nice, class act. It’s stupid comments like yours that put NASCAR in this position.

Don
06/19/2008 01:08 PM
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Bull…. I have worked for the same company for 42 years, and I have NEVER once attended an outside event with co-workers. One thing I have found is, people will joke with co-workers they like, and if anyone takes offense and speak out, all joking with that person stops, why? because people know in todays Political atmosphere, you can and will be fired, and or sued

Douglas
06/19/2008 02:06 PM
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Thank you Eric, and I have NEVER been with a Company that judges people ONLY AT WORK! And promotes irregardless of your “attendance” at outside functions!

It has always been, and always expected that if you want to rise in the ranks, then YOU WILL ATTEND certain functions outside of work, as informal as they may seem!

Not doing so is called “career suicide”!

If you want to rise in the ranks, you then must play the game!

If you want your career to seek a certain level and not go any further! Then never socialize outside of work!

David
06/19/2008 04:06 PM
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As someone that traveled “the circuit” for 18+ years, what she has claimed in her lawsuit IS the environment. It is certainyl not right and the mentality as Jeff suggests is “if you don’t like it, leave.”

As far as her “social” activities. First, if you travel around the circuit much, you know that the NASCAR officials stay at the same hotel…which means the same pool, same lobby, same bar, etc… If she wants to avoid this atmosphere, her option is to stay in her room. I am sure being afraid to go out in public because you do not want to be confronted by bigots is somewhere in the definition of “harrassment.”

And yes, you are expected to attend dinners, cocktail parties, etc… People promote people they know & like. If you are not out there drinking with them, you will not get promoted.

Eric
06/19/2008 04:27 PM
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We still call them CLM’s or Career Limiting Moves. Would be nice to work for a business that actually promotes on results. I’m sure they exist somewhere, I’ve just never worked for one.

Mike
06/19/2008 05:09 PM
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I have read the lawsuit, and her interview on SI.com. This women, and her lawsuit is horse pucky. Can I sue her for being offended at her assertions that I am a drunken inbred klansman

ed
06/19/2008 07:12 PM
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Many of the points in this article are weak and will be shredded in court. The social engagements? Like David said, they are all staying at the same place on the road many weeks a year.

Granted she could have done more regarding filing complaints but at the sametime she liked her job and wanted to keep it. That doesn’t mean she liked being treated like a piece of meat or a lesser human being.

I love Nascar adn I hat to say it but I have been to numerous races and some of the venues have ignorant, sheltered people attending who are bigots and sexist. Thats the way is most everywhere in the world to some extent but it glows red at the race track quit often.

Let’s be honest shall we.

Marc
06/19/2008 07:59 PM
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Does anybody here remember the legal term “Innocent until proven guilty”? Seems to me we are hearing one-sided assertions and making assumptions of guilt without knowing the whole story. This, people, in a corporate world, or in your own home is dangerous. Guilty they may be, and if they are, then the guilty should be punished. But I will say one thing, I don’t believe a NASCAR official could ever dream of making $225 million in a lifetime, by good honest work. We all know lawsuits are settled out of court to cut legal costs and embarrasments, and I make a prediction this one will be swept under the rug, long before the truth is heard, whatever that truth is. In a litigious society such as ours, we must remain ever vigilent not to offend anyone, which can include things as diverses as reading a Bible verse, or saying and doing some of the most vulgar things imaginable. It seems these days that offense is really in the eye of the beholder, and not prudent judgement.

Mike The Insane One
06/20/2008 10:02 PM
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Brian France didn’t do them any favors with his press conference. Some of the comments he made could only add fuel to the fire or “ammo” to Mo’s case. I’d say he needs to be sure to engage his brain before putting his mouth into gear only he doesn’t have a brain.

 

Contact Jeff Meyer

Recent articles from Jeff Meyer:

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