Earl Stewart Toyota faces discrimination complaint


Toyota dealer Earl Stewart has been sued by a man who says the dealership discriminated against him by not giving him a job that was advertised exclusively for female sales associates.

Glenn Liou, a 58-year-old New York resident with no experience working at a car dealership, claims he was rejected by the dealership based on his gender, according to court records.

RELATED: Earl Stewart Toyota expansion gets initial approval in Lake Park

In what he said was an effort to hire more women at his Toyota dealership in Lake Park, Earl Stewart advertised for female sales associates in an online posting last October.

“He was out of state, and he had no prior experience selling cars,” Stewart said of Liou during a news conference called Monday in response to the discrimination complaint. “We have valuation tests that we do, and he didn’t pass those. We wouldn’t have hired him above anybody. He wasn’t a very good applicant.”

Just 20 percent of Stewart’s sales staff is female — about double the industry average, Stewart said — and he wants to raise that figure to 50 percent.

RELATED: Earl Stewart Toyota expansion gets initial approval in Lake Park

The car dealership argues that Liou, whose previous work experience included stints with the U.S. Postal Service, a data analytics company and an Asian restaurant, was unqualified for the position.

The Florida Commission on Human Relations, which investigates matters of workplace discrimination, partially sided with Liou on June 18.

It determined that Earl Stewart Toyota’s advertisement seeking female sales associates violated the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992, which prohibits discrimination based on gender.

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However, it also determined that the dealership did fully consider Liou’s application before rejecting it.

“We considered him,” said Gary Dunkel, one of Earl Stewart’s attorneys. “We didn’t put aside his application. He was fully vetted. We just didn’t hire him because he wasn’t qualified.”

Liou, who is seeking “back pay and front pay from the date the position was filled by a less-qualified individual,” along with damages and attorney fees, has requested an administrative hearing in the case.

An administrative law judge has been assigned to the case, Dunkel said. It will be heard in Tallahassee next month.

In the meantime, Stewart said he will continue to work toward bringing balance to his sales staff, though in a way that doesn’t violate state law.

“The #MeToo movement has really gotten everybody aware of discrimination against women,” he said. “I think they make excellent employees. I think in the case of car sales, they make better employees.”




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