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NASCAR Behind the Scenes: Still Just for the "Good Old Boys"?

Just a little over a year ago NASCAR settled a $225 million lawsuit filed by their first, and, to date, only, African-American female technical inspector. According to the suit, Mauricia Grant was subjected to dozens of specific incidents of sexual harassment and gender or racial discrimination, painting the working environment of NASCAR's Busch Series as one reminiscent of a bygone era where such activity was commonplace.

Ms. Grant's initial complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, detailed more than 40 pages worth of individual and systemic behaviors that should be unheard of in this day and age, particularly in a major-market corporation with such nationwide appeal as NASCAR. Such inappropriate actions included: repeated exposure to the genitalia of her male counterparts, being given a series of inappropriate nicknames like "Nappy Headed Mo", being subjected to often-frightening Ku Klux Klan references, being referred to as a "nigger" or a "nigga" and being accused of being a lesbian because she refused the sexual advances of her co-workers.

Has the "Drive for Diversity" Taken a Wrong Turn?

Mauricia Grant was brought into the NASCAR organization during a period in which the company, in an initiative it named the "Drive for Diversity" was actively seeking to integrate its workplace to include minorities and women and to increase its appeal beyond the traditional Caucasian male fan-base. The changes were slow in coming, however - during the more than two years Ms. Grant was employed with the company, she was the only black official of the 30 in the Busch series (now the "Nationwide Series") and there was only one black driver (Bill Lester) in a field of 43.

No data is currently available about the number of female or minority officials currently employed in the NASCAR organization, but there is a notable Colombian driver on the Sprint Cup circuit, Juan Montoya. He has not reported any incidents of racial or national origin discrimination.

Workplace racial or gender harassment should never be tolerated, regardless of whether you work in NASCAR, at a Fortune 500 company or at a "mom and pop" business. If you or a loved one has suffered the devastating effects of on-the-job harassment or discrimination, seeking the advice of an experienced attorney with in-depth knowledge of relevant laws and landmark cases in this area can be invaluable.

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