Former AAMCO executive alleges racial pay discrimination and retaliation in lawsuit

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Filed by a former black executive at AAMCO’s corporate offices in Pennsylvania federal lawsuit Allegations against the transmission repair chain on Wednesday that it paid them significantly less than their white counterparts and the leadership acted in retaliation after complaints of “racial pay disparity.”

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Jerome Staley, 27, said he was hired as a regional manager at Southeast in 2018 and then promoted to vice president of operations for the Eastern region two years later. According to the complaint, he was the first black executive employee of AAMCO, a 60-year-old franchise business with nearly 600 automotive centers across North America.

He said he was featured in the company’s marketing and promotional materials “to emphasize its new diversity” following the death of George Floyd in May 2020, according to the complaint.

Jerome Staley.Hastings Group

But in 2021, Staley said, he learned from another executive that his $100,000 plus bonus was about $40,000 less than other vice presidents. He raised concerns about “unequal treatment for compensation” for those above him, including CEO James Gregory.

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“Mr. Gregory told Mr. Staley that he was ‘disappointed’ at Mr. Staley for the race discrimination complaint and responded to Mr. Staley’s complaint by saying: ‘You make enough,’” according to the suit, which was filed in US District Court. Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Staley, a married father of two children, said that his salary should be commensurate with the fact that he was promoted to a key role overseeing a key sector, and that his age and experience were not an issue compared to other vice presidents.

“I was called in to handle and put out a lot of fires,” he told NBC News. “And I was given an area where someone who had more ‘experience’ than before was not able to thrive.”

Staley said he was awarded an $11,000 bonus after his No. 1 spot in field performance in the third quarter of 2021. When asked by the leadership why they never received the money, they replied that they were “withholding bonuses for the quarter because they did not think Mr Staley trained his team adequately,” the suit. According to.

His suit also stated that “after only a few months, Mr. Staley’s eastern divisions ranked first, second and third in third quarter sales of all stores in the country. Such a tremendous turnaround performance is impossible without adequate training.” “

Staley, however, said in his complaint that he submitted his resignation last November because he was “unwilling to work for a company that denied him equal pay and to protest racial inequality in executive compensation.” retaliated against.”

Staley also claims that AAMCO continued to retaliate against him when he sought to become a co-franchisee with an existing store in Aiken, South Carolina, which was operated by a black couple. Staley said that despite his negative experience in corporate, he still wanted to “leverage his operations expertise” by becoming his own boss, but Amco rejected his application, according to the complaint.

He said the leadership told him he was dismissed because of “how you got away”, but that the application of a white employee who had been fired from Amco and solicited to become a franchisee was accepted. was.

Amco’s parent company, American Driveline Systems, was Acquired by billionaire investor Carl Icahn in 2017said in a response that it “takes these allegations very seriously.”

The company’s chief marketing officer Amy Baker Johnson said in an email, “While we cannot discuss the details of these claims pending litigation, we can say that they are without merit and we will take a firm stand against them.” Will defend.”

In recent years, Amco – known for ads that do magic “double-amco” – has been subject of class-action lawsuits Alleged that the franchisee was misled about their financial prospects and other aspects of the business. At least two of these lawsuits have been dismissed.

Staley has since abandoned his attempt to become a co-franchisee and now works at Public Storage’s corporate offices. His lawsuit, which claims his civil rights were violated, is seeking compensatory damages.

He said the big calculation that prompted a wave of American companies to re-examine the racial makeup of their boardrooms and increase diversity still awaits other businesses where employees of color are being sanctioned.

“Black lives only matter if they want to make it a mission statement, but they don’t mind when they have to pay out of their own pocket,” Staley said Wednesday.

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