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Lawsuit accuses Mercedes-Benz dealership in Lafayette of racial discrimination

Mercedes-Benz logo (Photo by Ralph Orlowski/Getty Images)

LAFAYETTE, Ind.– A federal lawsuit filed Tuesday accuses an Indiana Mercedes-Benz dealership of racial discrimination.

Indianapolis resident Jeffrey Turner was a sales manager for a dealership in Lafayette, and claims he was fired in retaliation for the owner’s alleged repeated use of the N-word. The suit also alleges the owner boasted about “systematically overcharging African American customers for vehicles.”

Turner claims this alleged practice had a name: “(N-word) scalping.”

After reporting the racial slurs to Mercedes-Benz of North America, the suit alleges he was fired for insubordination.

Turner worked for the company since the 1980s and “was the only African American employee at the Mercedes-Benz dealership,” according to a release from Turner’s attorneys.

The suit alleges Turner suffered a hostile work environment due to his race, which was “a regular subject of unwelcome verbal harassment.”

Turners attorneys say he was honored twice as being “the best of the best” for his work performance, but then had his commission lowered before being asked to leave and not come back.

“Turner was replaced with a less or similarly qualified white candidate,” his attorneys said.

The suit alleges Mercedes-Benz did nothing to correct or prevent this alleged behavior by the dealership’s principle owners.

Turner is seeking a trial by jury.

The release from Turner’s attorneys included this statement:

“The corporate attorney for Raisor Auto Group and Mercedes Benz of Lafayette, John R. Gambs, denies that his client violated any employment laws. In a letter, Gambs denies that Mike Raisor used the phrase ‘n***er scalping,’ and instead claims that he used the phrase ‘a n***er in the woodpile.’ According to Gambs, Turner went to another sales manager for advice after Raisor’s derogatory comment. He told Turner that even though Raisor’s comment was ‘inappropriate,’ Turner shouldn’t take offense because Raisor was just “raised in a different generation.”

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