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Old 12-26-2002, 08:26   #1 (permalink)
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Ford settles sexual harassment complaint

Thursday, December 26, 2002
Plant worker claimed company did nothing to stop male advances
By David Shepardson / The Detroit News

DEARBORN -- The Ford Motor Co. has agreed to settle a complaint by a female employee at its Dearborn Stamping Plant who says she was subjected to repeated sexual harassment that the company did little to stop or investigate.

"Despite knowledge of the harassment, (Ford) failed to take prompt and effective action to correct and prevent the harassment," reads the six-page complaint filed last week in U.S. District Court by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Ford has agreed to sign a three-year consent decree with the commission, said a Ford spokeswoman, Anne Marie Gattari. It also will perform additional training for managers to help root out similar harassment, and will post notice of the decree throughout the River Rouge complex.

"We're going to redouble our investigative training and procedures," Gattari said. The company has an equal opportunity policy prohibiting harassment that is aggressively enforced, she added.

Gattari said the company will pay an undisclosed settlement to the woman, and it has moved at least one of the employees accused of harassing her.

Since at least August 2000, male employees harassed Jill Nabozny, the government said, naming two employees it said subjected her and other female employees to harassment.

"She was subjected to unwelcome sexual talk, innuendos, jokes, touching, staring, whistling and intimidation by male co-workers," the complaint said.

One worker said he wanted to take Nabozny and two other female co-workers to a box car in the back of the building for a sexual encounter. The same co-worker fashioned a phallic-shaped object out of welding materials and placed it at Nabozny's work station.

Another co-worker parked his Hi-lo behind Nabozny and watched her bend and stoop to do her job, the EEOC said. He also repeatedly asked her out on dates.

In 2001, Nabozny complained to Ford management.

Ford agreed to the EEOC remedy of compensating Nabozny for its "malicious or reckless conduct" and providing the sensitivity training.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Zatkoff will formally approve and review the consent decree.

Separately, Ford settled another EEOC complaint on Nov. 27, signing a consent decree agreeing to pay an employee $5,000 at its Michigan Truck Plant in Wayne and pledging to accommodate her disability.

Kimberly McNeil of Romulus sued Ford in September, accusing the company of discriminating against her. Under the terms of the three-year agreement, Ford will comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act at the Michigan Truck Plant and at its Wixom Plant.

Before the agreement took effect, Ford provided its managers with additional training at its Michigan Truck Plant.

Raphael Richmond, a Ford attorney, noted that the company didn't admit any wrongdoing, and that the company is committed to complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Other cases
In 2000, the first female millwright at DaimlerChrysler's Jefferson North assembly plant, Linda Gilbert, won a $21 million jury verdict in a sexual harassment case. In August, the Court of Appeals upheld the verdict that's on appeal to the state Supreme Court.
In July, two former workers at the General Motors Corp. truck plant in Moraine, Ohio, filed a $4 million racial discrimination lawsuit against the automaker. Larry Lovelace and Lamont Appleton, both African-American supervisors at the plant, alleged that they were subjected to racial slurs, including the display of hangman's nooses, and denied advancement opportunities.
Ford recently settled an anti-gay harassment suit in Georgia for an undisclosed amount. Ruben Camp, a forklift operator at a plant near Atlanta, claimed that co-workers called him "sissy," labeled him "AIDS-infected" and threatened him with a weapon.

Source: Companies, Detroit News research
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