NEW YORK (Jul. 26)
The eastern regional manager of Korean-based Hyundai Motor America has been accused of a “willful and malicious” practice of discriminatory behavior directed against Jews, women and blacks, according to related cases filed in state and federal courts.
Allegations in a New Jersey state Superior Court suit by Susan Tetley, an employee at the car company’s Cranbury, N.J., regional office, form the basis of a second federal suit in New York.
In both suits, Tetley attributes to regional manager Ed Gormley references to a personal “rating system” of employees and car dealers. According to the system, whites are accorded “ones,” “niggers” “twos” and Jews “threes.”
Tetley joined the company in 1985 as a senior secretary. Although now a facilities supervisor, she claims in her suit that Hyundai failed in its promises to promote her to administrative manager “on the basis that she is Jewish and female.”
According to Tetley’s court papers and statements she made to the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, Gormley refused to hire blacks and deliberately decreased the number of Jews receiving auto dealerships.
Furthermore, Tetley quoted Gormley as saying that there are “too many Jews” among Hyundai dealers and that he attempted to “reduce the percentage.”
Gormley did not return repeated phone calls to his office in New Jersey.
Tetley’s allegations are included in a separate court deposition in connection with a case by Tom Nemet, a Queens, N.Y., auto dealer who charges that the company denied him a dealership because he is Jewish.
Nemet’s breach-of-contract suit, originally filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in May 1987, alleged that Hyundai had denied Nemet an automobile franchise despite his apparent qualifications.
The suit asks that Hyundai give him the dealership and pay damages amounting to the profits he would have earned had he not been denied the dealership two years ago.
The suit was amended under New York’s anti-discrimination laws in June, after Tetley’s allegations came to light.
According to her deposition, Tetley heard Gormley refer to Mr. Nemet as “that Jewish bastard” and quoted him as saying that Nemet “is never going to be a dealer as long as I’m regional manager.”
According to Tetley, Gormley, in a reference to Jews, said, “I understand why they exterminate all of them.”
Hyundai is treating the cases separately in its response to the allegations.
According to Ted Kade, public relations manager at the company’s U.S. headquarters in Garden Grove, Calif., Gormley was issued a reprimand for alleged statements in September 1987.
However, said Kade, “any bias attributed to Mr. Gormley has not played any role in his action towards employees, dealers or prospective dealers.”
Kade said Hyundai neither condoned nor practiced “any type of discrimination,” and will be vindicated.
ADL this week expressed “serious concern” about the allegations, and urged Hyundai to take immediate measures to “redress the situation.”
Tetley declined to speak to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on the advice of her lawyers. But according to Nemet, who sells Jaguar, Volvo and Nissan automobiles, “The bottom line is that Hyundai claims I didn’t get the dealership because my facilities didn’t qualify. Quite frankly, that’s a crock of bull.”
Nemet said he was denied the dealership “because I did not wish to do business Gormley’s way” and because of Gormley’s “anti-Semitic bias.”
Nemet called Tetley a “very, very special lady. To testify to this took a great deal of nerve.”