SPOKANE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today announced a lawsuit against Monte L. Masingale, a Spokane-area car salesman, for a pattern of sexual harassment against female employees and prospective employees.
Masingale works at Greenacres Motors dealerships in Airway Heights, Greenacres, and Post Falls, Idaho. The auto dealer, Greenacres Motors, is also named in the suit, because its owner and staff knew, or should have known, about Masingale’s conduct.
The complaint, filed yesterday in Spokane County Superior Court, alleges that Masingale frequently posts help-wanted ads for a secretary in newspapers and on websites like Craigslist. Masingale refuses to hire males for the position, and sexually harasses young women who apply.
“Sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal and unacceptable,” Ferguson said. “This case is particularly serious because Masingale targets young women seeking entry-level work, and these women may not know their rights or how to enforce them. My office is committed to protecting the right to fair treatment at work, including the right to a workplace free from sexual harassment.”
Victims’ reports show a distinct pattern. Masingale makes unwelcome sexual comments and advances, touches and gropes female employees without their permission, and asks female employees to agree to a sexual relationship as a condition of continued employment. Many women quit rather than continue to be subjected to Masingale’s harassment, and some reported it to the police.
Sexual harassment in the workplace violates the Washington Law Against Discrimination. An employer may not condition a job, or a job benefit like better hours or a promotion, on an employee’s agreement to have sex.
It is also against the law for an employer to create a hostile work environment. A hostile work environment exists where an employer or manager’s sexual behavior is serious enough to create an abusive working environment or otherwise interfere with an employee’s ability to do his or her job. The behavior could include sexual comments or jokes, requests for dates or sex, or touching an employee without permission.
Harassing behavior and misleading job advertisements can also constitute unfair or deceptive practices in violation of the state Consumer Protection Act.
Individuals who believe that they have been the victims of sexual harassment at Greenacres Motors are encouraged to contact the Attorney General’s Wing Luke Civil Rights Unit at 1-844-323-3864. You may also email the unit at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about the Attorney General’s civil rights work is available at www.atg.wa.gov/wing-luke-civil-rights-unit.
The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Attorney General Bob Ferguson is working hard to protect consumers and seniors against fraud, keep our communities safe, protect our environment and stand up for our veterans. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Peter Lavallee, Communications Director, (360) 586-0725; PeterL@atg.wa.gov