Ford assembly plant faces repeated sexual harassment case: Part I

Posted in Sexual Harassment on November 22, 2014

We have previously written about the problem of sexual harassment in professions traditionally thought of as “men’s work.” This includes factory and manufacturing work. Whether here in California or other parts of the country women who work in these jobs face sexual harassment risks that tend to be higher than those seen in many other professions.

In these hostile work environments, change often requires outside intervention and legal action. Even then, it can be very difficult to change a work culture that has long condoned sexual harassment. A recent case in the Midwest is a good example.

Ford Motor Co. has an assembly plant in the Chicago area. About 11 years ago, the culture of sexual harassment and gender discrimination was allegedly so pervasive that it led to a lawsuit by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, $9 million in penalties, three years of monitoring and a $10 million investment in comprehensive sexual harassment training for employees.

During the years that Ford was being monitored, the company reportedly did very well and showed significant improvement. Unfortunately, old habits sometimes die hard, and the same Ford plant now finds itself facing another sexual harassment lawsuit with claims which are very similar to those made in the original case.

According to news reports, there have been over 100 complaints filed with EEOC, and four plaintiffs have filed a new lawsuit that is currently seeking class-action status. Those familiar with the original case believe that Ford likely stopped its commitment to sexual harassment training and prevention once the monitoring period was over.

Please check back next week as we continue our discussion about this lawsuit.

Source: Crain’s Chicago Business, “Once eradicated, harassment issues return at Ford plant,” Meribah Knight, Nov. 17, 2014