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Spokane area car dealership admits to sexual harassment, will pay $280,000

UPDATED: Wed., Jan. 25, 2017

From staff reports

Spokane area car dealership Greenacres Motors has agreed to pay $280,000 in fines and penalties after admitting that allegations of a pattern of sexual harassment by its former owner and employee, Monte L. Masingale, are true, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Wednesday.

The two companies that jointly do business as Greenacres agreed to accept the fines and penalties in a consent decree filed Tuesday in Spokane County Superior Court. According to a news release, the businesses will also adopt a non-discrimination policy and give all of their employees anti-discrimination training.

The decree states $130,000 will go to Masingale’s victims, $30,000 to civil penalties and $120,000 to costs and attorney’s fees. According to the news release, the dealership’s current owner is in bankruptcy, so the actual amount the victims and the state will receive is unknown.

Masingale died in July.

In October 2015, the state filed a lawsuit against Greenacres that alleged Masingale, who was 80 at the time, made unwelcome sexual advances to female employees and prospective employees, which included touching and groping them without their permission. According to court documents, he also required the female employees to enter a sexual relationship with him in order to keep their job.

Masingale would also take out advertisements on websites such as Craigslist, as well as in The Spokesman-Review, seeking applicants for a secretary position between 2012 and 2015, the Attorney General’s Office alleged. The Attorney General’s Office says Masingale refused to consider men for the advertised job with Greenacres Motors, which has locations in Airway Heights, Spokane Valley and Post Falls.

The lawsuit also alleged Greenacres “authorized, knew, or should have known about Monte Masingale’s conduct, which was open and obvious.”

In November 2016, the companies admitted that they knew or should have known about Masingale’s harassment, the news release states. According to the release, the companies withdrew their previous court filings that denied the state’s allegations.

The Washington Law Against Discrimination prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace, including prohibiting employers from offering promotions, better benefits or keeping their jobs in agreement to have sex.

It is unknown how many women Masingale targeted while working at Greenacres.

Representatives for Greenacres couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

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