Brown & Brown Chevrolet in Mesa agreed to pay $99,000 to settle a lawsuit over alleged discrimination against a former salesman.
The lawsuit, filed in federal district court by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, stems from allegations that the company's general sales manager refused to promote Omagbitse Jagha to finance manager because he didn't like his accent.
EEOC officials said the manager, whose name they did not disclose, told a group of 40 to 50 employees during a meeting that although Jagha was overdue for a promotion, he would not advance to the new position because of his accent and that he should learn to speak "more like an American."
Sally Shanley, a supervisory attorney with the EEOC, said that Jagha not only spoke fluent English, but he was also an exemplary employee.
"It really was based on this manager, especially his view that he should speak nonaccented English," she said.
Marc Cannon, a spokesman with Brown & Brown's owner, Florida-based AutoNation, wouldn't comment on the settlement.
EEOC officials said the manager's action violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on national origin.
Brown & Brown, which is located at Centennial Way and Main Street, also agreed to conduct anti-discrimination training for its work force.