Labor

FirstAmerica Automotive Faces Lawsuit Over Alleged Discrimination and Labor Violations

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FirstAmerica Automotive Faces Lawsuit Over Alleged Discrimination and Labor Violations

James Zheng, a former salesperson at FirstAmerica Automotive, LLC, has filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging a series of violations that range from failure to provide meal and rest periods and reimburse business expenses to unlawful retaliation, wrongful termination, and discrimination.


A hostile work environment marred Zheng's experience at FirstAmerica Automotive. The complaint cites instances of derogatory comments targeting individuals of Asian descent. Zheng, who is of Asian descent, was at the receiving end of such comments.


"Plaintiff worked for Defendants as a salesperson and experienced a hostile work environment, including derogatory comments targeting individuals of Asian descent," the complaint reads.


Zheng raised concerns about these and other unethical practices, hoping to transition to a different role within the company. However, his supervisor resisted these requests.


Eventually, Zheng tendered his resignation but later rescinded that resignation after FirstAmerica's General Manager urged Zheng to reconsider. However, Zheng was subsequently terminated for allegedly not reaching sales goals. This despite other employees with worse performance records not being terminated.


According to the complaint, "Plaintiff rescinded his resignation but was later terminated for allegedly not reaching sales goals, despite other employees with worse performance not being terminated."


The lawsuit alleges that Zheng's termination was not due to his performance but was motivated by his race. The circumstances surrounding his termination, the complaint contends, indicate the discriminatory practices that FirstAmerica Automotive engaged in.


The lawsuit also alleges that FirstAmerica Automotive failed to provide meal and rest periods as required by labor laws. Furthermore, the company is accused of failing to reimburse Zheng for business expenses and engaging in unlawful retaliation.


The complaint cites California Civil Code section 3294, which allows for the recovery of punitive damages in some instances. Zheng is seeking such damages from FirstAmerica Automotive as well as front and back pay, severance pay, and other monetary compensation.


Additionally, the complaint asserts a cause of action for failure to prevent and investigate discrimination and harassment under California Government Code section 12940.


"Plaintiff asserts a cause of action for failure to prevent and investigate discrimination and harassment under California Government Code section 12940 et seq.," the complaint reads.


Zheng also claims that FirstAmerica Automotive intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon him. Finally, the lawsuit alleges that FirstAmerica Automotive engaged in unfair business practices, as defined by Business and Professions Code sections 17200.


"Plaintiff alleges unfair business practices by Defendants under Business and Professions Code sections 17200 et seq.," the complaint states.


Zheng is demanding a jury trial on all issues and causes of action. He seeks various forms of relief, including penalties, compensatory damages, restitution, injunctive relief, and attorneys' fees.


The lawsuit is a stark reminder of the importance of maintaining a respectful and inclusive work environment. It also underscores companies' need to adhere to labor laws and ethical business practices.

Case Facts

  • Status:
    Lawsuit Filed
  • Case Number:
    23-CIV-04069
  • Filing Date:
    August 30, 2023
  • Jurisdiction:
    State of California
  • State:
    California
  • Court:
    San Mateo County Superior Court
  • Plaintiff:
    James Zheng
  • Defendant:
    FirstAmerica Automotive, LLC d/b/a Sonic Automotive, Inc.
  • Plaintiff Firm:
    ILG Legal Office, P.C.
  • Defendant Firm:
  • Claims Administrator:
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Kevin Salzman, Esq.
Kevin Salzman, Esq.
Reporter and Licensed Attorney
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