Longtime Car Salesman Rocky McCullough: Dealership Fired Me Because I Have Cancer

Categories: Courts

Rocky.jpg
Photo Courtesy Rocky McCullough
McCullough says he turned the dealership around, then was fired because he has cancer.
You might recognize Rocky McCullough from his Goodson Honda TV spots, where he guaranteed low prices while standing next to a buxom model or two. But now McCullough is playing a different role: the plaintiff in an employment discrimination lawsuit against Southern Ford in Pearland.

McCullough claims he was fired because he was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer in December 2011 and the company didn't want him on their insurance plan. According to the suit, filed in Harris County District Court, McCullough was hired as general manager in November 2011 and fired in April 2012, even though "the dealership's sales were up 247.6 percent over the prior year to date."

The suit claims that, despite undergoing weekly chemo treatments, McCullough "continued to work at the dealership 50-60 hours each week, returning to work every Wednesday after his Tuesday treatments, and working on Saturdays."

McCullough also alleges that office managers told others that "we didn't give Rocky cancer," and "it's not our fault that Rocky has cancer."

At least seven employees left as a show of solidarity, McCullough and his attorneys say.

McCullough, who's worked in auto sales since 1978 and served as chairman elect for the Houston Auto Dealers Association, tells Hair Balls that he's never fired an employee struggling with a serious illness: "I've had people with life-threatening illnesses, whether it be them, a spouse or a parent, and not one time did I terminate any of those people. Not one time did I cut their pay or not pay them any time they were out...because it's just the right thing to do."

Southern Ford denies the allegations in a press release, stating, "We pride ourselves on maintaining a workplace free from unlawful harassment or discrimination....Southern Ford incurred significant operational losses during Mr. McCullough's tenure that resulted in his termination. We are confident that out decision was both justified and lawful."

No matter how this turns out, we wish McCullough the best. This just sucks all around.

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28 comments
Candy
Candy

You Ford people better hire Rocky back with a sincere apology and back pay or I will NEVER buy another Ford.  By the way, I am a loyal Ford customer.

Adambcolter
Adambcolter

To the Clay Family: Yesterday you terminated my Sister, Jill Colter for having Cancer. Clearly this is difficult to prove. Regardless, this was an extremely heartless action, as well as a despicable way to treat another human being. As an employer of 75 employees, in eighteen years we have never treated an employee as you have Jill. Moreover, I know of no other business person that would terminate a person who Battling to LIVE. Clearly I am disgusted with the events of yesterday as they relate to my Sister Jill. Shame on the Clay Family! Your prospective audience should be made aware of this story. The story of a 48 year old girl with Stage Four Brain Cancer. I am curious, when you made your decision to fire Jill, did you stop to think of how your actions would affect her mental well being. This was a selfish thing to do and you should be ashamed of yourselves. My primary concern as Jill's Brother is her well being. Whether health, financially or otherwise. Together, The Colter Family and Family Friends will be there for Jill during this difficult time in her life. I cannot imagine just how low she must feel following your reprehensible actions. And for the Clay Family of Car Dealerships, I feel strongly, your prospective customers have a right to know this story (in its entirety). My business of 18 Massachusetts locations "USGROUND" has a Facebook Fan base of over 50,000 Massachusetts businesses and individuals. Our campaign to share this story starts immediately. We'll start with a simple post here: www.facebook.com/usground.com (clearly a story of this nature will go viral). I will ask some dozen or so close business associates that collectively have an online Massachusetts facebook reach that tops 1000,000 to post this story. Business review sections within Google, Yahoo, Bing, AOL, SuperPages, YellowPages and the like will all accept such a business review. Naturally such a review will be the story of how you treated Jill. People should know about this. These reviews will post steadily for an indefinite period of time. Cancer patient forum sites will showcase this story too. Collectively, patients and their families are a tremendous source of support in situations like this. Twitter may be the best way to communicate this story to people and businesses throughout MA. Our goal is not retaliatory. Instead we want people to know who they are dealing with when considering buying a new or used car from Clay. We do not want this to happen to another employee at Clay. Not today, tomorrow, not ever! You need to know just how damaging to Jill your actions were. I do not believe there is much you can do to remedy this matter. Nevertheless, you should feel comfortable in contacting me about my Sister Jill. Until such time as I hire a PR Firm to help me communicate this story to traditional media and digital media, I am Jill's point person. I can be reached at 617-593-1300. Mr. Adam B. Colter, CEO WWW.USGROUND.COM V. 1-617-593-1300

Victoria41155
Victoria41155

That's downright sickening. What has happened to everybody that actually gives a damn? where is the support when you need it?

TOLDYA
TOLDYA

I've been in the car biz/atty biz thanks Wyatt for way too long Rocky has made so much bank it is off the chart fuck him. I saw this POS crybaby on the tele the he has screwed more than half of Houston.

rworley1982
rworley1982

@TOLDYA Look you moron, My family actually  knew Rocky and my Father worked for Rocky. He was a good man all around, when my Dad hurt his back, Rocky opened up another position just so my dad could still work and not have to go on disability as he is a very proud man. When my Dad started his own company rocky sponsored him out of Rockys own Pocket and helped him get his business off the ground. So the next time you want to run your mouth about some one MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR TALKING ABOUT!!!!!!!!!!!

Jim C
Jim C

Are we certain it's not because Rocky wanted to buy airtime on Astros games in order to reach all their remaining 518 fans?

TXDad223
TXDad223

Rocky is a great guy who turned that crappy dealership around and this is how they repay him? No wonder they're in the hole again.  Southern Ford and all their other affiliated dealerships won't get my business and I will be sure to tell as many people as possible to stay away too. This is sickening....

Catherine
Catherine

So true.  It is a sad state of affairs when our society has no sense of common decancey.When people become a financial liability they just disgard them like a peace of trash.They will all answer to God one day.  When this poor man needs his insurance the most, they take it away and fire him.  The sad thing is,  because of our health care system he will not be able to get private insurance because it does not cover pre-existing conditions.Basically they have kicked him to the curb to die.  Houston should boycott this dealership and all affiliated dealerships.  Prayers for Rockey.

MadMac
MadMac

Any idea of the parent company? I did a couple of searchs but only found, (surprise, surprise, surprise) customer complaints. Honestly I don't know Rocky and the old commercials annoyed me but I HATE corporate scumbags treating employees like this.

Wyatt
Wyatt

Proof that our health care system works awesome the way it is, European socialist hellholes and C_n_d_ can fuck off

Hanabi-chan
Hanabi-chan

And your statement is related to this story...how exactly?

MadMac
MadMac

Don't get drawn into the hipster-mind trick where he/she/it sets you up as the butt of the joke.

Jim C
Jim C

Because...employment decisions are being made based on the employee's health and impact to the company's insurace plan?

Wyatt
Wyatt

I don't think sarcasm's efficacy is based on whether or not it expresses a minority opinion.

I didn't snipe at anyone, not here at least. And I'm sincere in expressing how unfortunate it is that we're even at a point where we see someone with a serious health condition as a financial liability.

You're a strange bird.

MadMac
MadMac

Your "sarcasm" might work if it where not the overwhelming, prevailing opinion. Sniping at folks (not in on your hip irony) stating their earnest beliefs belie your "jus' joking and you're a MoMo for not getting it," qualifyer. 

You have a nice weekend, as well.

Wyatt
Wyatt

No, it was a clearly sarcastic (and not particularly clever) comment about our health care system as it compares to countries with socialized health care. Have a nice weekend.

MadMac
MadMac

Oh, so this is another hipster "so inside it's outside" bit of irony?   

Wyatt
Wyatt

Yep, thanks Jim. Didn't think it was unclear at all.

Mstrdrgn
Mstrdrgn

Right to Work is actually Right To Fire For No Valid Reason and needs to be struck from every state in the US. It is time to make employers have to answer to someone for often malicious and capricious decisions regarding their employees.

MadMac
MadMac

I've been making $3/$5/$10, grocery money donations to WI labor fighting for Walker's recall. Someone should have some job/union security, even if we can't here in TX.

MadMac
MadMac

I live in Pearland. Didn't think this rinky-dink dealership would make it. Now I know how they (all of them really) made it and I know where I won't buy my next car. Wonder what other dealership/s this group owns?  

Hanabi-chan
Hanabi-chan

MadMac, I truly hate shopping for a car.  The idea makes me weep. Okay, maybe not weep but I had a root canal a few years back. Rather have the root canal than deal with car salesman. At least with the root canal I got Vicodin to lessen the pain.

MadMac
MadMac

True story: my Mrs. initiates and completes every car purchase in the McClellan home. Otherwise, we'd be driving whatever they have at the auction the day I went. The salesmen think I'm there to do the hard barganing for the little woman (or they think the black lady brought her white mechanic) but quickly find out I'm there for their protection. My Mrs. is a tooth-chipper.

Yeah, I don't like shopping, (food aside) and I LOATHE car shopping.

Hanabi-chan
Hanabi-chan

 That's awesome MadMac! Next time I got to deal with those idiots at a auto dealership, may I borrow your missus to help smooth the negotiations?

Last time I bought a car, (at one of those pay here lots. Being underemployed for two years and not getting any support for the kid kind of killed my credit rating), I waited 5 or so hours to finalize the deal.  Well, that was my mistake for not putting my foot down and saying you have 1 hour, maybe 2 if I am feeling generous. If you can't reach a deal with me, I am going elsewhere. No one should have to put up with that.

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