Female workers at Ford Motor Co.'s Chicago plant have accused the company of turning a blind eye to "heinous" acts of gender discrimination, including catcalling, groping and requests for sexual favors, in a putative class action filed in Illinois federal court Monday.
The four named plaintiffs in the suit, who are seeking to represent the 500 women working at the factory, say they are subjected on a regular basis to hostile behavior that Ford routinely ignores despite their complaints to superiors and calls to the company's harassment hotline.
Among the allegations in the complaint were that women were:
Being subjected to jeers, lewd comments, sexual suggestions, cat-calls and the like;
Being stared at by male employees who were focused on certain parts of plaintiff's body and/or "elevator eyes";
Being subjected to comments or offers of sexual contact or males telling me what they could or would like to do for me or to me (and other women);
Being subjected to men exposing their genitals and/or showing pictures of their genitals;
Being subjected to men sharing or displaying pornographic images in the workplace;
Being ridiculed for having complained and/or being admonished not to complain in the future and/or not to use the harassment hotline;
In addition, the complaint alleges that:
Sexually offensive graffiti is painted on the walls in the plants and defendants did not take effective corrective action.
Female employees are referred to as "bitches" on an ongoing basis.
Female employees are also referred to as "whores," "sluts" and "dogs."
Male employees also place sexually offensive graffiti about female employees in the men's bathrooms.
Male employees routinely undress in full view of female employees at various areas of the plant.
Male employees fail to properly button their uniforms such that their pubic hair is exposed.
Male employees would routinely stare at female employees in a sexually offensive manner.
Male employees would routinely make crude and lewd comments directed at female employees, such as "Are you cold? I can tell that you are cold by looking at your nipples."
Female employees are sometimes exposed to condoms thrown into their work areas or tool boxes.
Female employees are subjected to whistles, offensive touching, gazing and comments such as "what color are your underclothes?" on a daily basis.
At various times, male employees would rub against females, pretending as though they dropped something on the floor;
The suit also claims that male employees sometimes host widely advertised sex parties at the plant where strippers and prostitutes are hired, and recordings of which are distributed throughout the plant. The complaint also describes behavior that often led to women being denied favorable job opportunities for failing to perform sexual favors for their male superiors on company property.
The upshot: Horrible things still are going on in the workplace, and will only stop if the victims assert their rights in court.