SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) – Several Land Rover dealerships in California kept a “blacklist” to keep people of Chinese or Asian descent from buying or leasing vehicles, a Los Angeles man claims in a class action filed in Orange County Superior Court.
In his class action filed Wednesday and made available by the court on Thursday, Paul Chiu accuses at least 22 Land Rover dealerships across California of discriminating “against legal aliens of Chinese origin” and those perceived to be of Asian descent. Employees at the dealerships “conspired” with each other to not sell or lease vehicles to customers who fit that description.
Chiu says he tried to purchase a Land Rover from several dealerships across the state and was denied each time. He says the dealerships either said he would need to submit multiple documents as part of a corporate policy or told him outright he was not approved to buy or lease a vehicle.
Chiu says the salespeople made it difficult for him to move forward with the sale when he told them he was Chinese-American.
In February 2015, Chiu says he wanted to pay for a vehicle through a wire transfer. The salesperson asked him for his nationality and then asked if he was a U.S. citizen, according to the complaint.
After Chiu said he was a U.S. citizen, the salesperson said they had to speak with the general manager. Chiu says he was then subjected to corporate policies and procedures meant to discourage him from purchasing a vehicle.
According to the lawsuit, Chiu “could not avoid the restrictive sale policies” that kept him from purchasing a Land Rover.
For Chiu, the restrictive policies included proof of permanent residence in California, copy of a utility bill, current insurance, driver’s license, three months of bank statements from his personal bank account and the standard credit application, according to the complaint.
Chiu says he questioned the policy, told the salesperson that he was as a U.S. citizen, employed at the time, lived in California and had enough money to pay for the vehicle. But he says he was told by the salesperson he “should not bother” to submit his paperwork because he would not be permitted to buy or lease a new Land Rover.
Following that incident, Chiu went to multiple dealerships across the state over a seven-month period and each time was met with stringent corporate policies when he told salespeople he was Chinese-American and wanted to pay for the vehicle via money wire with help from his parents.
Represented by Los Angeles-based attorney Gary Carlin, Chiu’s claims include violations of the Unruh Act which prohibits discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, ethnic origin, age, disability and other factors and California’s business and professions code.
Parent company Jaguar Land Rover did not immediately respond to an email for comment on the lawsuit.