Alene Tchekmedyian

John Elway’s Manhattan Beach Toyota faces discrimination suit

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John Elway's Manhattan Beach Toyota

John Elway's Manhattan Beach Toyota. Photo by Alene Tchekmedyian

Timothy Sandquist, a former sales manager at John Elway’s Manhattan Beach Toyota, is alleging that he and other employees of color faced rampant racial discrimination while working for the dealership.

In a lawsuit filed on Jan. 9 against the dealership (also naming former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway, two other partners and the general manager), Sandquist, an African American, alleges that minorities were subject to racial slurs, hostile working conditions and were denied equal pay and career-enhancing opportunities.

Sandquist alleges that after eight years of working for the dealership, he unofficially assumed the position of general sales manager without the title or pay. Sandquist resigned in January of last year.

“Discrimination based on race, color, national origin, and ancestry flourishes and is deeply embedded in the dealership’s corporate culture,” Sandquist alleges in the complaint, adding that racial slurs were allegedly used toward Hispanic, African American, Asian and Middle Eastern employees.

James McDonald, a lawyer for the dealership, denied the allegations in the complaint. “We believe that the allegations do not have merit and we plan a vigorous defense in court,” he said.

According to the complaint, those who reported racism to an employee hotline were allegedly retaliated against – the complaint alleges that two employees who used the hotline to report discrimination were terminated within days. The discrimination included “offensive remarks about the intelligence, work ethic and physical attributes of employees and people of color,” as alleged in the complaint.

According to the complaint, partners John Elway, Mitchell Pierce and Jerry Williams were aware of the alleged discrimination after an employee survey was administered in June 2010, through which employees reported the racial discrimination.

Sandquist demands a jury trial and seeks damages, including back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and the implementation of policies that ensure employees of color are afforded equal pay and opportunities for promotions, according to the complaint.