Ford agreed to pay up to $10.1 million to settle a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment at its Chicago assembly plant in Hegewisch and its Chicago stamping plant in Chicago Heights.
The automaker further agreed as part of the settlement to take steps to prevent sexual harassment, including conducting training and distributing copies of anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies among the workforce.
“Ford chose to voluntarily resolve this issue without any admission of liability with the EEOC to avoid an extended dispute,” Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker said. “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.”
In 2015, allegations of a hostile workplace for women and minorities led Ford to replace up to eight top managers, including the plant manager, at the factory at 126th Street and Torrence Avenue that makes the Explorer, the Taurus and other vehicles.
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“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,” Felker said.
Four female employees filed a class action suit in 2014 alleging they were groped, subjected to unwanted requests for sexual favors, and harassed by male colleagues who exposed their genitals or showed cell phone pictures of their genitals. In one case, a male colleague carved phallic symbols out of rubber hoses and Styrofoam during his breaks and threw them at female employees, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit, filed by Hunt & Associates P.C., also alleged supervisors told female workers to forget instances of sexual harassment and retaliated against anyone who complained, including by dismissing them from desirable work assignments.
Ford paid $19.5 million to settle a similar lawsuit by 14 female workers at the Chicago Assembly Plant in 2000, which resulted in a hotline to report sexual harassment and other protections.