TRANSCRIPT OF Brian France News Conference June 14, 2008Posted by claireblang in Controversy.
Tags: Brian France, claire b lang, Michigan International Speedway, NASCAR, Sexual harassment, XM Radio
Image via WikipediaFrance Addresses Media;
“Knowing what I know now and not to compromise the investigation at all and I’m not going to do that I can tell you not to jump to conclusions about what a lawsuit attempts to say in an attempt to create some monitory reward for themselves. We’ve been down this road before and usually the facts are something different than the lawsuit and we’ll just have to let the facts come out as they will” Brian France to the media at MIS 6/14/08
NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France entered the Michigan International Speedway media conference room at 1:30 p.m. EST Saturday wearing dress slacks and a shirt with sleeves rolled up. In other words – no formal suit.
He was there to address the media and take questions about the $225 million discrimination and harassment lawsuit filed last week by a former official of NASCAR in the Nationwide Series. When asked whether he came to Michigan specifically for the news conference or if he was coming to the race anyway he joked, “I always like to fly up to see you guys (media) personally, so, no I was going to be here anyway.”
Then France made a statement and opened the floor for questions.
TRANSCRIPT OF Brian France News Conference
May 14, 2008:
BRIAN FRANCE: I wanted to make a couple of comment regarding a couple of items that are in the news for us. One of the comments is in respect to a lawsuit that was filed on Tuesday and a subsequent investigation we have under way to review those claims that were made. I think I mentioned earlier in the week that the most disappointing thing to me is that we found out about the alleged claims after you did in the media via a national lawsuit that seeks a lot of money.
That’s very disappointing, because if any of those claims turn out to be accurate and have substance, we would have liked to have known about that two years ago so that we could have reacted and done something about it. It is inconsistent with anything from a policy standpoint of how a work environment for our officials should be. It is not consistent with anything – our values or what have you.
I would tell you the most disappointing thing that all of times that this plaintiff, Miss Grant, had in her time at NASCAR through diversity and sexual harassment seminars and training – where our human resources people were explaining as we always do multiple times during the year what our policy is and how the environment needs to be. Everybody signs that and understands that and abides by that.
To have never, ever raised it other than in a lawsuit is disappointing to us. Nevertheless, we have started an investigation -we’re under way. We are treating in very seriously as we would when we have these types of investigations. With thousands of employees and the nature of our business we’re going to have claims that are made from time to time. It’s not uncommon for us. We investigate every one of these kind of claims very thoroughly and we will continue to do that.
That is it on that topic and happy to take any questions
Q: There’s a story on the wire today that two of the people involved or named in the lawsuit have been suspended as part of the investigation obviously. Can you comment on that?
France: In our investigation we have put two officials on a leave of absence until we can complete more details and complete the investigation fully. That is correct. The two people have left for the weekend. (The Nationwide Series was scheduled to race Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway.)
Q: Was there a meeting (Friday) with officials in the (Cup and Truck series) garages here in Michigan as well as the investigation going on in Kentucky?
France: There was. We wanted to remind everyone about our policy. Everyone should be familiar, should be aware of how to conduct themselves and their behavior. But, obviously, we wanted to make sure once again of exactly what NASCAR’s policy is in terms of behavior in either harassment or certainly in racial discrimination of any kind. That was the nature of those two reviews with our officials.
Q: What did you discover in your investigation in Kentucky that led to the two officials on leave?
France: The investigation is still ongoing. Obviously we found some violations in our policy. I would not jump to conclusions to assume that all the allegations that were made over the many months that the plaintiff made are accurate. I would be very, very cautious to making that leap of faith even if we were to take action on any official in this investigation. We might discover something entirely different that may have been going on that had nothing to do with the claim in the lawsuit but still is a violation of our policy.
That would get you in trouble with us. That’s the nature of investigations. They go on and we’re very detailed. We’re bringing in everybody that we can find to give us the information of what is going on so we can be very clear in our findings.
Q: What does this do to the relatively clean reputation the sport has had? Is that reputation sliding?
France: I wouldn’t characterize it as a sliding at all. We are a big sport with lots of participants at lots of different levels. The idea that everybody is going to act and behave perfectly is just not a reality that any of us lives in. Our job is to make sure that we have really good work policies in place and to react very swiftly if our policies are violated.
We’re going to do that. We found out about this,as you know, on Tuesday with the filing of the suit. By Thursday we were in full investigative mode. We didn’t wait. Some of these claims go back two years or longer.
Here again, it’s very disappointing that would not have been brought to our attention if these claims actually happened that the would have been brought to our attention right when they happened so we could have investigated it right then and taken any action we needed to. And it didn’t happen. It just didn’t happen. She chose to make this about money and about a lawsuit and we’ll deal with that.
Q: In the course of the investigation you’ve done over the past few days you’ve talked to supervisors that Miss Grant says she reported this information to. In your subsequent investigation after you found out about it have you found any instances where her complaints might have not gotten up the chain as far as they needed to. Do you know what I’m asking?
France: I know what you are asking. So far – she just didn’t report anything to anybody. Quite the opposite, she was very pleased with her colleagues, most of the comments that we have heard is she liked her job, enjoyed being there and liked the camaraderie with the other officials. We just have not found anyone that she reported the claim (to). Even if we have not found it yet… There’s a very clear process you go through if there is any discrimination or harassment. Everybody in the company knows what it is and they have been trained to observe it and make sure that the proper officials within the company are notified. You could pull me (aside)-any employee who has an issue can e-mail me directly or certainly go to human resources. There are dozens of ways to report such an incident and it just didn’t get reported.
Q: Will you hesitate to settle the lawsuit out of fear that it could spark other lawsuits of a similar kind?
France: We can’t comment on the developments of litigation. Lawsuits are lawsuits and we’ll deal with that within the court system.
Q: Could you tell us why (the official who filed the lawsuit) was terminated eventually?
France: We don’t divulge that information on any employee so I can’t tell you that.
Q: What does this do to the diversity efforts you and NASCAR have made? Does it affirm a perception that may be held outside the sport that NASCAR is a white guy’s sport?
France: Would we like to not have had a suit filed that makes these kinds of claims? Of course. Would we really have liked to been able to investigate it when these incidents occurred? You bet.
But we have to deal with what we have to deal with. The only thing I will say is that as all of the facts ultimately get on the table is not to jump to conclusions about what actually happened. That’s why we do investigations that’s why we do reviews. We will get to the bottom of it and hopefully nobody will jump to an improper conclusion.
Q: Brian her representation is pulling no punches in this thing at all. There was a statement issued recently where here representation said yes they (NASCAR) have a zero tolerance policy something of the line zero tolerance for women zero tolerance for blacks etc. What is your response to her representation coming out and saying those types of things?
Well, anybody can say anything that you want and hire a PR firm and do all the things that anybody wants to do and say whatever they want. That’s just completely inconsistant with anything that goes on in NASCAR. It’s not the NASCAR that we are building and I would obviously disagree with her.
Q: Brian, perception is reality, can you paint the picture that (you see) is NASCAR right now out on pit road and in the garage?
Well it’s a sport that is evolving and a sport that is reaching out in lots of different ways to be more diverse and not because it’s a socially good idea. It’s a good idea for a whole host of different reasons. It’s an American sport we need to look and feel more like America. You know the many different initiatives that we have from driver diversity where drivers are getting a chance who otherwise wouldn’t have. Crew members, internship programs, the tracks are doing an enormous amount they are trying to attract a new audience and I have helped lead it for a number of years. We’re never happy because we haven’t reached all our goals. But we’re happy with our approach, the road we’re on and what we stand for. You’ve heard me many times and you as the media you know things that were in that claim were absolutely and completely inconsistent with where this sport is going.
That was most of what Brian France had to say. I like to give it to you in full so that you can review it for yourself.
Talk amongst yourselves on this one:
How about that NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Race. Was Ron Hornaday mad at Kyle Busch or What? He ran through the fence into the garage and found Busch. The conversation wasn’t pretty. What did you see? Email me at ClaireBMail [at] ClaireBLang.com