Posted On: December 20, 2008

NASCAR Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

The fastest growing sport in history, NASCAR settled a $225 million dollar sexual harassment lawsuit yesterday, the terms of which are confidential. Former NASCAR official Mauricia Grant said she was subjected to racial discrimination and sexual harassment when she worked as a technical inspector responsible for certifying cars in NASCAR's second-tier Nationwide Series from January 2005 until her termination in October 2007.

In her lawsuit she alleged 23 specific incidents of sexual harassment and 34 specific incidents of racial and gender discrimination. Among Grant's racial discrimination claims, she said she was referred to as "Nappy Headed Mo" and "Queen Sheba," by co-workers, was often told she worked on "colored people time," and was frightened by one official who routinely made Ku Klux Klan references. Grant also said she was subjected to graphic and lewd jokes and sexual advances from male co-workers, two of whom allegedly exposed themselves to her. After an investigation by NASCAR officials of Grant's claims the two male co-workers who allegedly exposed themselves to her were fired.

The settlement was reached after twelve hours of mediation earlier this month in New York. The mediation session was suggested by U.S. District Court Judge Deborah A. Batts after the first court appearance in what was expected to be a multi-year battle between the two sides.

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations, as well as to the federal government. The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex. The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee. The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct. Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim. The harasser's conduct must be unwelcome.

NASCAR started with its first sanctioned race which was held on a Daytona's beach course on Feb. 15, 1948. Nascar holds 17 of the top 20 attending sporting events in the United States, has the second highest ratings of any sport on television, is broadcast in over 150 countries with over 75 million fans and sells over $2 billion dollars in merchandise according to the lawsuit.

According to the allegations in the lawsuit NASCAR used Grant, an african-american, at public outreach programs designed to convince the media, corporate sponsors and others of the companies diversity.