More Than 30 Women Sue Ford Over Sexual Harassment at Chicago-Area Plants

Thirty-three women have joined a federal lawsuit against the Ford Motor Company alleging they were victims of sexual harassment, including attempted rape, at two Chicago-area plants.

The suit—filed May 1 in Chicago by women who work at Ford’s Assembly Plant at 12600 S. Torrence Ave. in Chicago or the Stamping Plant at 1000 E. Lincoln Hwy in Chicago Heights between Jan 1, 2012 and now—alleges they were subject to a hostile work environment including attempted rape, unwanted sexual advances, touching, groping, and men exposing or showing pictures of their genitals.

“Ford is aware of the ongoing discrimination and harassment which occurs on a daily basis in an open manner, such that it is observed by employees and supervisors, and has turned a blind eye toward it,” the suit says.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission conducted an investigation and found several women were sexually harassed and subjected to gender and race discrimination, according to the suit.

The United Automobile Workers union confirmed the investigation in a statement, but an EEOC spokeswoman declined to confirm or deny the investigation Tuesday morning, citing confidentiality.

When asked about reported firings of several managers at the plant, Ford spokeswoman Kristina Adamski said, “Ford rotates the career assignments for employees based on the needs of the company. Any questions regarding the UAW, should be directed to their team.”

A message posted on the UAW Ford Department’s Facebook page on behalf of Vice President Jimmy Settles says the chairperson of the Chicago Assembly Plant, Allen “Coby” Millender, one of those named in the lawsuit, was temporarily suspended by the company in the wake of the investigation, but returned to work April 15, according to Settles.

“The UAW and Ford Motor Company share a strong commitment towards eliminating sexual harassment and discrimination, of any form, in the workplace. Such conduct is unacceptable, it is not tolerated and there are policies in place to prevent such from occurring,” according to the statement.

The union did not respond to calls for information about other reported firings at the plant.

In 1999, Ford paid $7.5 million to compensate female employees who were subjected to sexual harassment at its plants in Chicago.

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