CHICAGO – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has announced a $10.1 million settlement with Ford, ending an investigation of sex and racial harassment claims at two Chicago Ford Motor Co. plants.
The EEOC announced the settlement in August saying it had found "reasonable cause to believe that personnel at (Ford's) ... Chicago Assembly Plant and Chicago Stamping Plant had subjected female and African-American employees to sexual and racial harassment."
The agency said it had found Ford also retaliated against employees who complained about the harassment, violating Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act.
The EEOC said Ford "chose to voluntarily resolve this issue with the EEOC, without admission of liability, to avoid an extended dispute.”
James Radford, a partner in the firm Radford & Keebaugh in Georgia, told the Cook County Record he believes the settlement is Ford’s attempt to correct the situation.
"A large employer like Ford likely recognizes that, despite its best efforts at a corporate level, things can go wrong at local facilities, and employees can engage in inappropriate, discriminatory conduct," Radford said. "A settlement of this nature recognizes that there is some merit to the allegations, and a desire by the company to try and make things right."
Radford often represents individuals who feel they have faced discrimination.
He sees the Ford settlement as a positive step, but feels there is still room for improvement.
"At a corporate level, many big companies are making efforts to update their anti-discrimination policies, properly train management, etc.," he said. "At a local level, however, people are just people, and unfortunately, employees bring their discriminatory attitudes to work. As long as there are discriminatory attitudes in the culture, you will continue to see unlawful discrimination and retaliation in employment."