Ford to pay $10.1M to settle sex, race harassment case

Keith Laing

Washington — Ford Motor Co. has agreed to pay $10.1 million to settle sexual and racial harassment charges at two Chicago facilities that were under investigation by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The agency said it found reasonable cause to believe that personnel at two Ford facilities — the Chicago Assembly Plant and Chicago Stamping Plant — had harassed female and African-American employees.

The EEOC said it also found that the automaker retaliated against employees who complained about the harassment or discrimination.

The agency said the Dearborn company has agreed to compensate employees through a claims process that will be established. Ford did not have to provide an admission of liability as part of the agreement.

The EEOC’s Chicago District director, Julianne Bowman, said in a statement: “Ford Motor Co. has worked with the EEOC to address complaints of harassment and discrimination at these two facilities and to implement policies and procedures that will effectively prevent future harassment or provide prompt action when harassment complaints arise.”

Ford said in a statement it “chose to voluntarily resolve this issue without any admission of liability with the EEOC to avoid an extended dispute.”

The company added: “Ford does not tolerate harassment or discrimination of any kind; we are fully committed to a zero-tolerance, harassment-free work environment at all facilities and to ensuring that Ford’s work environment is consistent with our policies in that regard. Ford conducted a thorough investigation and took appropriate action, including disciplinary action up to and including dismissal for individuals who violated the company’s anti-harassment policy.”

Ford was accused in a lawsuit initially filed by four women that claimed men at Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant touched and groped them, exposed themselves and subjected them to unwanted comments, stares and pornographic images.

The women alleged in the suit — which was later expanded to include more than 30 female Ford employees — that male co-workers, managers and supervisors would target them if they complained about propositions and inappropriate conduct.

A plant manager and other officials at the plant were replaced two years ago as the investigation proceeded.

Under the agreement, Ford will be required to conduct regular training at the facilities for the next five years. It must disseminate anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies and procedures to employees and new hires, and report to the EEOC any complaints of harassment or related discrimination.