LEAGUE CITY, Texas – A car salesman at a League City auto dealership is suing his former co-worker and the dealership’s parent company after he claims he faced a number of abuses -- including intentional flatulence and pinched nipples -- for more than a year.
Brett Bland filed the lawsuit against Jeremy Pratt and CT Motors, Inc., operating as AutoNation Acura Gulf Freeway in League City.
Bland contends in the lawsuit that Pratt’s behavior included "constant taunting, inappropriate banter and making extremely crass, vulgar and rude comments to or at the expense of (Bland)," creating a "sexually hostile environment" at work and on social media.
Among other things, Bland claims Pratt "reinforced dominance over his subordinates by regularly entering their enclosed offices, intentionally passing gas, and then laughing as they were forced to breathe soiled air."
According to the lawsuit, Pratt’s behavior was tolerated and that "open(ed) the door" to nastier behavior.
The lawsuit said Pratt was eventually fired after he sent a flyer to the entire dealership insinuating that Bland was a sex offender, which he is not.
After Pratt’s termination, the lawsuit claims Bland faced immediate retaliation; he says he was told he would be fired if he failed to sell eight vehicles per month -- a policy that had not been in effect before the incidents with Pratt.
The lawsuit claims "management continues to allow Pratt to loiter at the dealership" and that he continues to harass Bland and other former subordinates.
The lawsuit does not state a dollar figure Bland is seeking, but lists damages and court costs as relief.
"It seems to suggest an environment where some of the inmates were running the asylum and HR was either unwilling or unable to put a stop to it, at least in the short run," Channel 2 legal analyst Brian Wice said.
Wice said though harassment lawsuits involving male co-workers may not be common, the behavior that leads to harassment is rampant.
"When all is said and done, the law doesn't make any distinction between a man or a woman's right to come to work, do their job and not be tortured by cretins," Wice said.
AutoNation sent this statement on the matter:
“This is a pending legal matter on which we have no comment, other than to say that we previously investigated the matter several months ago and took appropriate action.”