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Alaska Sales and Service Found to Have Violated Alaska's Human Rights Law


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  December 3, 2009

ANCHORAGE - The Alaska State Commission for Human Rights has ruled that
an Anchorage auto dealership discriminated against Larry Flakes on the
basis of his race when it failed to promote the African-American sales
representative to a "team leader" position. The Commission concluded
that Alaska Sales and Service, Inc. must pay Mr. Flakes back-pay damages
of $118,375.

The Commission found that Alaska Sales and Service violated the Alaska
Human Rights Law, which prohibits discrimination because of race,
religion, color, national origin, age, sex, physical or mental
disability, marital status, pregnancy, or parenthood.

During a hearing before an administrative law judge, Commission staff
presented testimony by Mr. Flakes and another African-American salesman
who stated that an Alaska Sales and Service sales manager told both of
them that they were not chosen for the team leader position because of
the color of their skin. Alaska Sales and Service promoted five
non-Black salesmen to be team leaders instead.

The Commission ruled that Mr. Flakes was qualified for the team leader
position and was passed over because of his race. At the time Alaska
Sales and Service selected the team leaders in April 2002, Mr. Flakes
had been selling cars for nearly 18 years, including two years as a
sales manager or assistant manger at two other dealerships. He had
worked for Alaska Sales and Service for nearly 11 years and had been
named the "sales representative of the month" on 12 occasions.

Executive Director Paula M. Haley said the failure to promote qualified
individuals simply because of race is an issue the Commission takes very
seriously. While some people believe racism is no longer a concern,
this decision is a painful reminder that workplace discrimination
continues to be harmful to both employees and employers, Haley said.

Employment discrimination claims constitute the vast majority of
complaints filed with the Commission. The Commission also investigates
claims of discrimination in places of public accommodation, in the sale,
lease or rental of real property, in practices by the State or its
political subdivisions, and in credit and financing practices, which are
also covered by the Alaska Human Rights Law.

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