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

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Contributor Craig Malisow covers crooks, quacks, animal abusers, elected officials, and other assorted people for the Houston Press.
Contact: Craig Malisow