BALTIMORE (AP) — A Maryland used car dealership racially discriminated against black customers by offering them less favorable terms on auto loans than white customers, the Justice Department claims in a lawsuit filed Monday.
The department's lawsuit accuses Glen Burnie, Maryland-based Guaranteed Auto Sales, dealership owner Kelly Ann West and general manager Robert Chesgreen of violating the federal Equal Credit Opportunity Act.
Between September 2017 and April 2018, the department used people posing as prospective car buyers to test the dealership's compliance with the law. Dealership employees quoted higher down payments and bi-weekly payments to black testers than white testers for the same car, the suit says.
The dealership also offered to let white testers fund down payments in two installments, but none of the black testers were given that option even though they had more money available to put down, the suit alleges.
"Using race as a factor in determining credit terms, including the amount of down payment that a customer must pay, is despicable and illegal," Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband said in a statement.
A man who answered the dealership's telephone and identified himself as Chesgreen declined to comment Monday.
The department is seeking a court order barring Guaranteed Auto Sales from discriminating against anybody on the basis of race "with respect to any aspect of a credit transaction." The suit also seeks unspecified monetary damages to compensate any victims of the dealership's alleged discriminatory practices.