In a lawsuit expected to be filed Tuesday (4-9), federal officials allege that Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America Inc. violated the rights of hundreds of female workers. Chicago District Director of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission John Rowe has suggested that the case against the subsidiary of the Japanese auto company “could become the largest sexual harassment case ever prosecuted in the history of Title VII,” the 1964 law barring sex discrimination in employment.
Some 30 women filed complaints with the EEOC between 1992 and 1994 and filed their own lawsuit in December 1994, which is still pending. According to the women, Japanese management of the company took male employees to live sex shows while overseas for training and consistently complained that women did not belong in factories. The women allege that Mitsubishi Motor male workers and supervisors:
kissed and fondled women
called women “whores,” “bitches,” and more obscene terms
displayed sexual graffiti and pictures demanded that women perform sex acts and then retaliated against those who refused
Under federal law, victims of sexual harassment can receive punitive and compensatory damages up to $300,000. Many large cases are prosecuted under state law in states like California where laws protecting victims are stronger and damages are unlimited. Such protections are in danger if Californians vote in November to adopt the deceptive “California Civil Rights Initiative” which would legalize sex discrimination in public employment, education, and contracting.