Thursday October 03, 2002

Government accused Sega  

of workplace discrimination 

SAN FRANCISCO — The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Sega of America Inc. on Wednesday, alleging it fired a dozen video game testers because they were Filipino. 

The commission, in a suit filed in San Francisco federal court, also said another four workers were dismissed because of their friendship with an employee who complained about discrimination. 

Gamemaker Sega, based in San Francisco, denied the charges. 

“We are an equal opportunity employer,” company spokeswoman Gwen Marker said. 

She said Sega would vigorously defend itself. 

The commission said it tried to settle the suit before it was filed but could not reach an agreement with Sega. 

“It is not often we see such a clear case of national-origin discrimination,” said Susan L. McDuffie, the commission’s San Francisco director. 

Legislators continue attacks  

on Proposition 51 

SACRAMENTO — California legislators continued their attacks Wednesday on Proposition 51, a groundbreaking ballot initiative targeting nearly $1 billion a year from the state budget for traffic relief projects, including many that benefit contributors to the initiative campaign. 

Repeating themes of three previous legislative hearings, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Steve Peace, D-El Cajon, labeled the initiative a threat to state finances and an affront to the democratic process. 

“Over time it perpetuates the practice of making tax and spend decisions through the initiative process,” he said. 

Representatives of the League of Women Voters of California and California Tax Reform Association also testified against the measure. State financial analysts said it will raise this year’s deficit by $420 million — and $1 billion a year afterward unless legislators raise taxes. 

The initiative, proposed by a 10,000-member California environmental coalition, the Planning and Conservation League, is on the Nov. 5 ballot. 

Ebay trying to sell  

collector-car unit Kruse 

SAN FRANCISCO — EBay Inc., in a further step to divest itself of non-Internet businesses, Wednesday said it is seeking a buyer for Kruse International, an eBay subsidiary that runs a series of collector car auctions across the country. 

The step follows San Jose-based eBay’s recent sale of its Butterfields auction house to English auctioneer Bonhams for an undisclosed price. 

Kevin Pursglove, an eBay spokesman, said Kruse management notified the group’s employees in Auburn, Ind., that eBay would look for a buyer for the subsidiary. Pursglove said Kruse helped eBay with the launch of its eBay Motors automobile auctions on the Internet, but the company wasn’t focused on expanding Kruse’s off-line auction events, more than 30 of which occur around the U.S. every year. 

“I think we eventually came to the conclusion that for Kruse to continue to grow, it’s best to have an owner that is dedicated solely to building that off-line business,” Pursglove said. 

EBay acquired Kruse in a stock deal in May 1999. At the time, eBay said the value of the Kruse acquisition and the acquisition of Billpoint Inc., an online payment processing company, were worth $275 million combined.