Ford is one of America’s most recognizable and respected companies, but according to an eye-opening report in The New York Times, two of the company’s Chicago plants are notorious for rampant sexual harassment: despite a $22 million settlement following an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigation and lawsuits in the 1990s, the problem continues to be pervasive.
This past August the company reported having reached a second major settlement, this time for $10 million, for the same problem. Lawsuits are pending for the recent violations, with female employees detailing having their breasts and buttocks groped, being subjected to crude graffiti and images of penises carved into wooden tables, male colleagues masturbating in front of them and propositioning them, and more. In some cases women were promised better work assignments if they agreed to have sex with supervisors, and were punished and assigned to more dangerous jobs or less desirable shifts if they refused. Women who reported the violations to union representatives or supervisors found themselves the subject of retaliation.
In response to both the settlement and the reports, Ford’s CEO, Jim Hackett, has issued an apology for management at the Chicago plants failure to respond adequately to sexual harassment complaints, and has promised that new measures will be put in place, including a zero tolerance policy for harassment. He has also promised that there will be no retaliation against any employee who reports harassment or other abuses in the workplace.
Ford is not alone. Sexual harassment against women has been recognized in New Jersey as a violation of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination since 1992, and despite thousands of successful lawsuits serious problems persist and women continue to be sexually harassed in the workplace. The rise of the #MeToo movement has raised awareness and given many more women the courage to speak up for themselves and claim their legal right to a harassment-free work environment. The Law Against Discrimination protects persons who complain of and report violations, so it is urgent that victims report sexual harassment clearly and not anonymously, in order to take advantage of the protect of our very strong anti-harassment and anti-retaliation laws. If you have been sexually harassed or discriminated against on the job, we can help. Contact our compassionate attorneys today to learn about your rights.