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Female workers file a class-action sexual harassment lawsuit against Ford

Recently, thirty-three female workers have joined a class-action lawsuit against Ford Motor Co., claiming that the company failed to take action against sexual harassment in two Chicago-area manufacturing facilities.

According to the complaint, women at the facilities were subjected to sexual assault, groping, requests for sexual favors, nudity, lewd comments, and pornography. Women who complained about the harassment were written up, not given overtime, and given undesirable jobs. In addition, women who refused to comply with demands for sexual favors were denied bathroom breaks. Though several employees sought help from the company through its labor relations department and harassment hotline, they were disregarded. The complaint asserts that Ford is aware of the frequent discrimination and harassment that occurs in the facility, but has “turned a blind eye toward it.”

This is not the first time the company has been accused of failing to prevent sexual harassment at the Chicago manufacturing facilities: in 1999, Ford paid $7.5 million to settle another class-action sexual harassment lawsuit filed by female workers. However, according to an employee who worked for 18 years at one of the facilities, workers saw few improvements after the settlement. “There was no change. It only educated management, or the other offenders, to be more subtle and at the same time be a little more aggressive in their approach to the harassment,” she said.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigated the current complaint, and found evidence supporting workers’ claims that sexual harassment remains an issue at the facilities. In the months since the EEOC released its findings, Ford has replaced as many as eight managers at its Chicago Assembly Plant.

Federal, state, and city laws prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace

Sexual harassment in the workplace violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the New York State Executive Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law. Here are several examples of situations that could be considered sufficient grounds for a sexual harassment claim:

  • A supervisor threatens to transfer an employee if he/she refuses to comply with a request for a sexual favor.
  • A woman is fired after she decides to end a sexual relationship with her boss.
  • A man is reprimanded and ridiculed for refusing to allow his manager to touch him.
  • An employee’s boss constantly refers to her using vulgar and inappropriate language.
  • Coworkers and supervisors use inappropriate language that is not directed at a particular individual, but is derogatory towards women in general.
  • A woman works at an office where pornographic images are displayed on the walls.

The examples provided are only a small sample of situations that the law would cover. If you are uncertain as to whether you have a valid claim, contact an employment lawyer as soon as possible.

Contact the Akin Law Group for help

If you believe that you have been subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace, contact the lawyers at Akin Law Group as soon as possible. They are committed to defending employees’ rights to a safe and secure workplace, and are ready to use their legal knowledge and courtroom experience to increase your odds of success in court. Call us at 866.685.5163 to schedule a free consultation.

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