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St. Louis dealership facing $1.8M judgment in discrimination case

Two women who worked for the dealer brought discrimination claims against Tri-Star Imports Inc., alleging sex and racial bias.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

ST. LOUIS — A St. Louis jury on Friday handed down a $1.8 million verdict against the owner of a Mercedes dealership on Hampton Avenue.

Two women who worked for the dealer in 2018 and prior, Denise Ligon and Dorothy Robinson, brought discrimination claims in 2019 against Tri-Star Imports Inc. via a lawsuit in St. Louis Circuit Court, alleging sex and racial bias.

Jillian Mueller of Jackson Lewis PC, an attorney for Tri-Star, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Tri-Star, which does business as Mercedes-Benz of St. Louis and also has dealerships Honda of Frontenac and HW Kia of West County, with 4,826 vehicles sold last year, is owned by Thomas Hennekes.

The plaintiffs were represented by Mary Anne Sedey of Sedey Harper Westhoff PC, who told the Business Journal that the alleged conduct went on for three and a half years, with no corrective action from the dealership. In addition, four former employees corroborated the plaintiffs' testimony, Sedey said.

"Our clients are very happy with the result and feel vindicated, having a sense that the jury listened to them and believed them, and that finally somebody did something to fix this," she said. "I think it's yet another example of how important it is for employers to take necessary measures to prevent harassment and then to correct it."

Ligon was awarded $770,000 in damages, including back pay, plus $100,000 in punitive damages.

Robinson was awarded $840,000 in damages, including back pay, plus $100,000 in punitive damages.

Click here for the full story from the St. Louis Business Journal.

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