Jefferson County

(11) EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION vs. CAR WASH HEADQUARTERS, INC. d/b/a MISTER CAR WASH d/b/a MISTER HOT SHINE CARWASH (United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, Southern Division)

County/Docket #/Judge: Jefferson / 2:17-cv-00503-JEO / Abdul K. Kallon

Plaintiff(s) Attorney(s): Marsha Rucker and Gerald L. Miller of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Birmingham, AL

Defendant(s) Attorney(s): Jay D. St. Clair, Jennifer F. Swain, and Courtney L. Calhoun of Littler Mendelson, P.C., Birmingham, AL

Age/Sex/Occupation Of Plaintiff: Antonio Purdom (charging party): n/a / M / Front-End Supervisor

Cause Of Injury: Civil Rights/Labor and Employment/Racial Discrimination/Disparate Treatment/Failure to Promote Black Employees. On March 30, 2017, plaintiff Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a complaint against defendant Car Wash Headquarters, Inc. d/b/a Mister Car Wash d/b/a Mister Hot Shine Car Wash, on behalf of the charging party, Antonio Purdom, and a class of aggrieved black employees of defendant, which operated car washes in Birmingham and Vestavia Hills, AL.  The EEOC alleged that since at least February 2013, defendant had discriminated against Purdom and the class based on race by failing to promote them to one of at least eight openings for supervisory or management positions at its two locations. It stated that Purdom, who was working as a front-end supervisor when defendant purchased the car washes in 2005 and remained in that position until his employment ended in February 2016, had repeatedly expressed an interest in being promoted to a manager-in-training or manager position, but white employees with less experience and tenure, including employees that Purdom had trained, were repeatedly promoted above him. The EEOC alleged that until 2014, when class member Walter Gibson was promoted to supervisor after Purdom filed his charge of discrimination with the EEOC, Purdom was the only black supervisor at his location. The complaint sought injunctive relief and damages against defendant, which the EEOC noted operated 250 car washes and 34 lube centers in 21 states and employed 8,000 people.

Defendant admitted that during Purdom’s employment, it lacked a written promotion policy or formal application process and did not always post job vacancies. Defendant claimed that all its promotion decisions were based on legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons.

Nature Of Injury: Racial discrimination.

Expert Witnesses: n/a

Settlement: $225,000 on July 9, 2018 ($85,000 to Purdom; $140,000 – to be distributed to class members).

Editor’s Note: The consent decree, which was to be in effect for three years, also required defendant to create a formal promotion policy and application process, implement policies to prevent race discrimination, provide anti-discrimination training to employees in Alabama, provide training to management employees on reporting and investigating discrimination complaints, create an email address and toll-free number for reporting discrimination complaints, post anti-discrimination notices, and monitor and report to the EEOC employee complaints of racial discrimination