A Norwalk Superior Court judge has postponed a $25-million discrimination suit against Pete Ellis Dodge until next spring. The trial was scheduled to begin Monday, but Judge Robert Higa ordered a settlement hearing, then later rescheduled the trial to April 12 when the two sides failed to resolve the dispute out of court.
The three-year-old lawsuit alleges that sales manager Jeffrey T. Prather was fired from the South Gate auto dealership because he is black.
Attorney Jack H. Anthony, representing Prather, claims that Prather's termination letter indicated "lack of production" as the reason for his firing. But Anthony said that Prather was the top sales manager for the month in which he was fired.
Defense attorney Robert T. Hilmen Jr. said that he will prove Prather had been engaged in a personal dispute with general manager George Grossman. He challenges the discrimination charge, saying that minorities make up about half of Pete Ellis Dodge employees.