Harley dealership charged with discrimination

October 1, 2008 12:59:05 PM PDT
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Tuesday announced it has charged a San Francisco-based motorcycle dealership with sex discrimination for not allowing a qualified woman to work as a mechanic.

Dudley Perkins Co., one of the oldest Harley-Davidson dealerships in the U.S., was charged in connection with former employee Bowen Dean. The EEOC alleges that although Dean was hired as a mechanic, the company had her work in customer service and bookkeeping.

According to EEOC, Dean was hired June 23, 2003 as an entry-level lot technician and was repeatedly passed over for mechanical jobs by men with less experience.

In February 2006, Dean filed a sex discrimination charge with the EEOC, which said that as a result she was fired two months later.

"My passion has been antique Harley-Davidsons ever since I was 9 and saw a picture of Janis Joplin sitting on a chopper," Dean said. "My dream was to be a mechanic working on old bikes, in the city where I would have the freedom to be myself and ride with Dykes on Bikes.

"But Dudley-Perkins never let me actually work in my field and instead put me in desk jobs. Women bought 12 percent of all Harley bikes last year. If we can ride them, we can fix them. We have to be given a chance," she said.

The EEOC said the suit was filed in Federal District Court only after first attempting to reach a settlement through conciliation. The suit seeks monetary compensation for Dean's lost wages and benefits, reinstatement, compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief such as training to prevent similar discrimination in the future.


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