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Ford CEO visits Chicago plants amid harassment claims

Ian Thibodeau
The Detroit News
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Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Hackett met with employees at the automaker’s Chicago plants Friday to address recent sexual harassment allegations there.

Hackett met there with Chicago Assembly and Stamping plant leadership, hourly workers and walked the plant floor to interact with employees, according a statement from the company.

This comes just over two weeks after the New York Times reported women at the two plants said their complaints about sexual harassment were met with hostility, and that management’s efforts to correct the problem proved ineffective.

“Each of our employees deserves to come to work and be respected,” the company said in a statement issued Friday. “There cannot be any doubt on where we at Ford Motor Co. stand on harassment: We have zero tolerance for it, and we will stamp it out together. Anyone who behaves this way is not welcome at Ford.”

The plant visits also follows a Dec. 21 open letter Hackett wrote to Ford employees, and a nearly three-minute video denouncing sexual harassment aired in December on a constant loop inside all of Ford’s U.S. manufacturing plants.

Hackett’s letter mentioned the long history of harassment and discrimination at the Chicago plants, both of which were under investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over the summer. Ford will pay a $10 million to settle the charges.

In a statement released in December, the Dearborn automaker condemned behavior at the plants, saying its efforts to stamp out harassment began in earnest more than two years ago.

In addition to ramping up anti-harassment training, Ford said it increased the human resources staff at the Chicago plants, including a staff member who oversees both plants and reports directly to the automaker’s headquarters.

United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams also came down on sexual harassment last month, stating that the union has a “zero tolerance” policy.

“Candidly, it was gut-wrenching to read the accounts of these women in The New York Times article,” Hackett wrote in a Dec. 21 letter. “As an experienced CEO, I know there is no institution of merit that would support or condone an environment like the one described in this article.”


Twitter: @Ian_Thibodeau

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