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AutoNation Ordered to Pay $130,000 to Fired Salesman

Arbitrator says worker was punished for saying customers were cheated. Company will appeal.

October 21, 2002|John O'Dell | Times Staff Writer

AutoNation Inc. and its Huntington Beach Ford dealership have been ordered by an arbitrator to pay $130,000 to a former salesman who was fired after complaining to the Florida-based new-car dealership chain that customers were being cheated.

AutoNation said it would appeal the award to former car salesman Bruce Gillies . Spokesman Oscar Suris said the company would have no comment while the matter was still active, and a spokesman for Gillies' Irvine-based attorneys said Gillies would not comment.

The award, by an independent arbitrator, was handed down in late July.

Arbitrator Ricardo A. Torres, a retired Los Angeles County Superior Court judge, found that Gillies' superiors had punished him for complaining about deals in which customers' interest rates were inflated without their knowledge. The award includes $50,000 in punitive damages.

A statement issued on behalf of Gillies' attorneys said an attorney for AutoNation investigated Gillies' complaints and ordered an end to the offending practices, reprimanded the dealership's management and instituted oversight by an AutoNation regional executive.

The statement added, however, that the company attorney did nothing to prevent Gillies from being punished and in fact ordered his dismissal.

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