SANTA ANA : Jury Finds for Dealer in 2 Women's Firing

Two women who complained about the safety of their employee parking lot were not wrongfully fired by an Orange County auto dealership, a Superior Court jury found Tuesday.

The jury, in a 9-3 vote, sided with Toyota of Garden Grove and found the business did nothing wrong in firing Rosemary Holifield and Rae Lynn Wiggins.

Holifield and Wiggins had sued their former employer, contending they were wrongfully fired in 1992 for complaining about the parking lot they were required to use, a lot they believed had crime problems. The city-owned parking lot was accessible to the dealership only through a tunnel under the Garden Grove Freeway.

The dealership, however, said it acted properly and the women were fired because they broke company policy by not parking their cars in the lot. The dealership had contended during the 2 1/2-week trial that it tried several ways to address the women's fears, from posting security guards in the lot to providing valet parking, shuttle and escort services.

"What more can you offer?" asked dealership owner Norris J. Bishton Jr.

He called the verdict a vindication.

"This has been very tough," he said. "We're very happy with the outcome."

Holifield and Wiggins said they don't regret pursuing the court action.

"We did the right thing," Holifield said. "Someone had to take a stand at one point and we chose to." Their lawyer said they would seek a new trial.

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