LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Jeffrey Turner said he was fired from Mike Raisor Auto Group's Mercedes-Benz dealership as "retaliation."
He and his lawyer, Faith Alvarez, spoke with News 18 about the federal lawsuit.
"I think it is retaliation," said the 60-year-old former sales manager Turner. "Personally, after the incident happened I documented the incident."
Turner said he worked at Mike Raisor Auto Group's Mercedes-Benz dealership on Main Street from about 1987 until he was fired in 2017 in retaliation for complaining about the repeated use of the "n-word" by his employers.
Turner traveled from his home in Indianapolis to Lafayette for work for 30 years at the dealership.
Turner claims the dealership habitually overcharged African-American customers, again using the "n-word" to describe the practice as "scalping."
His lawyer out of Indianapolis said two weeks after he was fired, he went to the Civil Rights Commission to try and get his job back.
"He was hoping that they could help him recognize that this occurred, this discriminatory act occurred, speak with Raisor group and help him get back in his position but unfortunately that was unsuccessful," Faith Alvarez.
So for the past two years they have been working on a case.
Indiana's statute of limitations is two years, hence why the filing was Oct. 8th 2019.
In a letter provided to the Indiana Civil rights Commission by Raisor's attorney, Pamela Hermes, Raisor denies using the "n-word" in a sales meeting, and denies Turner was subjected to harassment.
Raisor did acknowledge using the phrase "an n-word in a woodpile" during a sales manager meeting attended by Turner, but that it was not directed at Turner.
Turner said changes to need to be made at the corporate level.
"I think it is a pervasive attitude throughout the entire nation," said Turner. "Mercedes-Benz is a phenomenal product, but they have a culture that is not conducive to African Americans."
He said management styles need to be changed.
"I personally think there should be a concerted effort to make a systemic change in culture at the Mercedes-Benz dealership," said Turner. "They dilute the work atmosphere when you just allow things to happen and you sweep them under the table."
Turner is asking for a jury trial in the case.
He said it was his dream to be a sales manager at Mercedes-Benz.
The lawsuit lists two complaints of discrimination based on race and two for retaliation based on race, as well as breach of contract and hostile work environment.
News 18 did reach out to the Raisor family and their lawyer Wednesday but have not heard back.