A man is suing a Cadillac dealership that is the largest business in Sherman Oaks, saying he fears his four-decade career as a mechanic is in jeopardy because he is a 63-year-old cancer survivor.
Steven Thun’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit against Casa de Cadillac alleges age and disability discrimination, hostile work environment and retaliation. He seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages and that the dealership’s management be ordered to undergo employee anti-harassment training.
Casa de Cadillac could not be immediately reached for comment on the suit filed Thursday.
Casa de Cadillac opened in 1948 and Thun has worked as a mechanic there for about 40 years, his suit states. During the past dozen or so years, he has reconditioned and prepared used cars for resale and is paid based on the number of vehicles he works on and the revenue generated, according to his complaint.
Thun has had a good record during the course of his four-decade career, the suit states.
In 2018-2019, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and received treatment, but continued to work at Casa De Cadillac, the suit states. His bosses knew of his cancer and ongoing treatment and provided him with minor work restrictions, the suit states.
In early April, shortly after the coronavirus began to get nationwide attention, Thun’s boss asked him, “Why aren’t you at home? You’re a high risk (for) COVID because of your cancer,” the suit states.
Although Thun denied he was highly susceptible to the illness, he was subsequently called into a meeting with two managers and told he was being furloughed because he had cancer, the suit states.
“We don’t need the liability,” one manager said, according to the complaint.
Thun told the manager his cancer was no longer an issue and that he wanted to continue working, but the manager repeated his concern about liability, the suit states.
Thun remained furloughed for some three months and believed he was one of the only — if not the only — mechanics furloughed by Casa De Cadillac who did not return to work, the suit states.
Thun returned on June 29 and was told he would be working part-time even though he preferred to work full-time, the suit states. A supervisor asked the plaintiff, “Why did you even come back? You’re high risk from cancer, so why didn’t you stay on furlough, you would’ve made more money than you would here,” the suit states.
When Thun replied that he wanted to return to work, the manager said, “But you’re old. Why don’t you just bite the bullet and retire early because you are never going to see the hours you did before, you are not getting all the used cars,” according to the suit.
Thun was told later that day the he would have to work on customer cars if he wanted to stay employed, the suit states. But Thun was assigned little work and was unable to meet the dealership’s hourly work requirements, the suit states.
Thun complained in August that he felt he was being intentionally pushed out of Casa De Cadillac by not being given enough assignments, but a manager replied, “You should retire early,” the suit states.
He was later called into a meeting with Heard and Suarez and asked to sign a paper stating that Casa De Cadillac would be reducing his hours if he could not do enough work during his shifts and that he could possibly lose his job, the suit states.
Thun refused to sign and said he was not meeting his hourly work requirements because he was not being given enough work by his boss, the suit states. Although he eventually signed the paperwork earlier this month, he wrote above his signature, “I acknowledge receipt of the job change, but believe this is punishing me because I complained about age discrimination and the fact I didn’t want to retire because of my age and my past health issues involving my cancer,” the suit states.
Thun remains employed by Casa De Cadillac, but continues to experience “increasingly severe hostility” by his managers and continues to be called into regular meetings, where there are hints that his firing is “all but expected,” according to the suit.
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