Car dealer employees win $2.1M sexual harassment lawsuit

Updated: 06/06/2014 11:28 PM | Created: 06/06/2014 11:22 PM
By: Danielle Todesco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A former car salesman at Pitre Buick on the Westside in Albuquerque says what he endured during 10 months of working there was unbelievable. 

Rick Yob says a lot of the male workers endured same-sex sexual harassment every single day, even to the point of a man at the dealership biting his genitals.

Pitre of Albuquerque had to pay out $2.1 million dollars to 52 men who all came forward claiming they too were sexually harassed at the dealership. Yob said he just recently got his hefty check from that settlement.  He was the whistle blower who brought the case to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Albuquerque.  Attorneys there said it is the biggest case their office has ever handled.

"You get your butt smacked or your package grabbed," Yob said that's how it started.

In 2010, just a week into his new job at Pitre Buick in Albuquerque, the harassment began.  But over the course of 10 months, he says James Gallegos' advances became more aggressive.

"After that, it just got worse and worse and worse.  I think he started picking on me a little bit more than everybody else because he knew how upset I'd get," Yob said.

He says he finally boiled over when Gallegos went way too far.

"He just lunged over and bit my stuff through my pants...hard by the way," Yob said.

Yob says he told management to fire Gallegos and was told if he didn't like, he should leave.  But Yob says he stayed and dealt with the harassment so he could get more witnesses on his side to back up his case with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The lawsuit outlines several occasions where Gallegos sexually harassed other men on the job.  And male workers at Pitre all seemed to know about the dreaded car wash.

"As soon as the car wash would start, he would drop his pants down and say touch it or we're staying here...and you can't get out of the car because you're in the middle of the car wash!"

Yob says ultimately, more than 70 witnesses testified to what they had seen Gallegos do at the dealership.  Again, Pitre paid out more than $2 million to settle the case.  Yob got a good chunk of that money, but he has paid the price.

"I haven't been able to keep employment.  I have to leave the state, I've had hit men after me, you sit at home and you break up into tears when you're thinking you're not going to be able to take your daughter down the wedding aisle," Yob said.

The lawsuit states that Pitre management knew about the harassment and never did anything to stop it.  In fact, they are even accused of retaliating against people who complained.  KOB Eyewitness News 4 reached out to several of the attorneys who represented Pitre in this lawsuit.  Our calls were not returned.

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