NASCAR Defends Firing of Former Official Now Suing for Discrimination

August 11, 2008

NASCAR denied Friday that a former official, now suing for racial discrimination and sexual harassment, ever complained to her superiors about such problems.

The former employee often referred to herself with racial stereotypes and was repeatedly reprimanded for tardiness and other behavioral issues, NASCAR said. In addition, NASCAR said the firing of Mauricia Grant last October was legitimate and not an act of discrimination or retaliation.

The claims were part of a 29-page document filed Friday in response to Grant’s US $225 million lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

A former technical inspector for NASCAR’s second-tier Nationwide Series, Grant filed suit in June alleging 23 specific incidents of sexual harassment and 34 specific incidents of racial and gender discrimination over the two-plus years she worked for NASCAR.

Her suit alleges she was fired as retaliation for complaining to her superiors about the way she was treated by co-workers.

NASCAR chairman Brian France has maintained there is no record of Grant ever reporting anything, and the response filed by the New York-based law firm Jackson Lewis LLP is consistent with his claims.

The response claims Grant acknowledged an understanding of NASCAR’s “zero tolerance policy against discrimination and harassment in the workplace,” attended mandatory training seminars on the topics in 2006 and 2007 and acknowledged her obligation to immediately report any offensive acts in accordance with written policies.

A request to speak to Grant and her attorney, Benedict P. Morelli, wasn’t immediately granted.

NASCAR’s response does not indicate why Grant was fired, and NASCAR has refused to disclose the reason. But the response claims a pattern of tardiness that she was routinely reprimanded for.

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