A Chicago Ford Motor plant is once again being sued over allegations of sexual harassment and sex discrimination.
The lawsuit filed Monday alleges an “on-going pattern and practice of sexual harassment and discrimination at the Chicago Assembly Plant spanning more than two decades,” according to attorneys at Hunt & Associates, P.C.
In the suit, four female employees from the Far South Side plant say the harassment took the form of sexually explicit and derogatory graffiti and pornographic images in public areas of the plant, demeaning comments made to and about woman and minorities, and inappropriate physical contact, including groping, fondling and requests for sexual favors. The employees claim to have “been subjected to unwanted or unwelcome sexual advances, touching, comments of a sexual nature, lurid, foul and offensive language and name calling."
“The men think they can do to you, touch you, and say things inappropriate about sex to you whenever they want,” said Charmella Leviege, one of the women who filed a lawsuit. The other plaintiffs include Christie Van, Maria Price and Helen Allen.
The suit also alleges instances where managers and supervisors have engaged in sexual relations at the company plant during working hours.
“This is another chapter in a never ending saga of the exploitation and mistreatment of women at Ford” according to Keith Hunt, lead plaintiffs’ counsel. “In spite of prior lawsuits and agreements with the EEOC, Ford continues to foster a sexually charged atmosphere which is degrading toward women and minorities and in which women don’t feel safe coming to work.”
The women say the harassment began a few years ago and they claim they attempted to report it, but little was done.
“These are people’s lives and women should not have to go through this in the workplace,” said Price.
In a statement Ford says it “takes reports of harassment and discrimination very seriously.”
“Where allegations of misconduct are raised, it is our policy to investigate them thoroughly and take all appropriate steps in response,” the company said. “We cannot discuss the details regarding individual employees’ complaints.”
More than a decade ago, several other women filed sexual harassment claims against Ford, at the same Chicago plant.
Ford settled that lawsuit and said changes would be made, such as the creation of a harassment hotline, but the latest suit says employees received little help despite their efforts.
“Women should not have to go through this at the workplace,” Price said. “If they had done something about it years ago, we wouldn’t be going through this today.”