Omne Trium Perfectum: 3 Dealership Policy Foundations
And today, a message in Latin about “threes.”
Omne trium perfectum conveys “everything that comes in threes is perfect.”
In other words, pay attention when things come in threes.
As humans, we recognize things and process information through pattern recognition. So, “three” is an important number when we are learning. The Rule of Three resolves around the idea that ideas given in three are both memorable and interesting to the reader. So, here we go!
Accurate Record Keeping
First, Automotive News reported on September 11th, 2023 that a lawsuit appeal, filed by a service adviser (who was fired for insubordination) was denied by a Connecticut court. (She lost.) The service advisor alleged gender and pregnancy discrimination when she was fired by Hoffman Honda for insubordination and creating a hostile work environment. 1 (She was the one creating the hostile work environment.)
Both customers and colleagues said that the service advisor had demonstrated a “poor attitude and rudeness.” In the court filing the dealership cited six (6) written warnings and a three (3) day suspension for “substandard work, conduct, attitude and carelessness.”2 The judge dismissed the case without a trial.
The dealership's attorney was quoted as saying, “By keeping accurate, thorough records, dealers can protect themselves from legal disputes and ensure compliance with legal standards.”
Keeping accurate records is key to avoiding problems. This is “top shelf” risk mitigation in practice.
Employment Practices Liability and Employment Laws
Secondly, according to the US Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) press release on September 15th 2023, a Baltimore area car dealership violated federal law by demoting and later discharging an employee because of her disabilities.3
The EEOC filed a lawsuit against Len Stoler Lexus in Towson, Maryland. According to the lawsuit Len Stoler Lexus employed a service advisor who sustained a traumatic brain injury and a coma after surviving a serious motorcycle accident which affected her ability to speak, walk, and engage in other activities of daily life. After intensive rehabilitation the employee was ready to return to work in her previous position as a service advisor, but the dealership demoted her to a lower paying cashier position at a different location because of her disabilities.4
The employee later requested to park close to the dealership as a reasonable accommodation which the dealership denied. The dealership eventually fired the employee based on her disability the EEOC charged.5
If the allegation is accurate this dealership violated the American with Disabilities Act which prohibits discrimination on the basis of a disability. It requires the employer to make a reasonable accommodation for the employee when they return to work at a similar pay structure as before.
The press release indicates that the EEOC attempted to reach a settlement before filing the suit through its conciliation process with the dealership.6 No settlement was reached and the EEOC proceeded with their suit.
There must have been other facts and circumstances involved for a lack of settlement by the dealership.
Having familiarity with the employment laws will help keep you out of trouble. If you aren’t aware of these laws, ask a lawyer or consultant before you make employment decisions. Also, does your dealership have Employment Practices Liability (EPL) insurance as a part of your risk management program? If so, if this was your dealership, you could have turned over this problem to your insurance company.
Third, Automotive News reported on September 21st, 2023 that a Detroit area Ford dealership fired an employee after posting a hateful UAW comment on Facebook.
Suburban Ford of Ferndale, Michigan, owned by Lithia, posted an apology on its Facebook page for hateful comments made by a former parts department employee.7
A handful of people left negative reviews on the dealership's Facebook page, voicing their displeasure with the former employee’s comments. In addition, several older Facebook posts by the dealership were filled with commenters voicing their frustration.8
Employees should understand how their comments may have an effect on their employer and consider their words carefully before posting anything on social media. Dealerships are businesses which cater to everyone in the community irrespective of anyone person’s views. Having a clearly stated social media policy may prevent problems from occurring in the first place.
A recent assertion by the National Labor Relations Board states that any restrictive social media policies may violate the NLRB's regulations. Consider and craft your social media policy carefully in thinking about how to prevent problems voiced by your employees. Consider politics and world affairs when you are drafting your policy.
Well, there’s three (3). A triplet or trifecta or triad or trinity (depending on the importance you give this article!)
Take a look at your company policies and your Guidebook and consider these items when crafting your company policies. Maybe it’s time to look at your employee policies as well as your EPL insurance and coverage limits.
This is definitely a case where an ounce of prevention will be worth a pound of cure. I hope you triangulate the triplex of stories here to make your dealership’s triumph threefold.
1 Automotive News, September 11, 2023, “Appeal by service adviser fired for insubordination denied by Connecticut court.”
2 Automotive News, September 11, 2023, “Appeal by service adviser fired for insubordination denied by Connecticut court.”
3 U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Press Release, September 15, 2023, “EEOC Sues Len Stoler, Inc. for Disability Discrimination”
4 U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Press Release, September 15, 2023, “EEOC Sues Len Stoler, Inc. for Disability Discrimination”
5 U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Press Release, September 15, 2023, “EEOC Sues Len Stoler, Inc. for Disability Discrimination”
6 U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Press Release, September 15, 2023, “EEOC Sues Len Stoler, Inc. for Disability Discrimination”
7 Automotive News, September 21, 2023, “Detroit are Ford dealership lets go of employee after “hateful” UAW comment,” by Jack Walsworth
8 Automotive News, September 21, 2023, “Detroit are Ford dealership lets go of employee after “hateful” UAW comment,” by Jack Walsworth
A dealership franchise owner for thirty years, Tom is now the Lead Consultant & Founder of Better Vantage Point, providing Dealer Dispute, Compliance and Risk Mitigation Solutions.
Tom also spearheads Tuck The Octopus which helps dealerships proactively manage governance, risk and compliance which has a direct impact on the customer experience.View full profile