A task force headed by former Labor Secretary Lynn Martin on Wednesday recommended major changes in the management operations of Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America Inc. to end the practices that prompted the federal government to file the biggest sexual-harassment lawsuit in its history.
Acknowledging that her report was the direct result of the suit filed against Mitsubishi by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in April, Martin said at a news conference in Chicago that “changes both evolutionary and revolutionary must be made” to deal with the problems at the company’s auto assembly plant in Normal, Ill.
The report contained 34 recommendations that Martin said amounted to “a total restructuring of the company’s workplace.” They include actions to better handle sexual- and racial-harassment complaints, increase promotion opportunities for women and minorities and improve the training and performance of plant supervisors.
The report has no immediate effect on the EEOC suit, which alleges that male employees at the Normal auto plant engaged in repeated “groping, grabbing and touching” of female employees; used abusive sexual language to women; required some to consent to sexual relations as a condition of employment; and forced their resignations if they complained.
Mitsubishi denies the allegations. But sources close to the company also said it hopes that acceptance of Martin’s recommendations will serve as the starting point for settlement talks with the government and a group of women who have filed a separate suit against the auto maker.
MMMA Chairman Tsuneo Ohinouye said at the news conference that the company will implement all the report’s recommendations.
A month after the EEOC filed its suit, Mitsubishi hired Martin to conduct an independent review of all the company’s workplace policies and procedures.
Martin’s report paints a bleak picture of management failures and cultural clashes within the company. Noting that MMMA “is a company with Japanese parents and an American upbringing,” the report said management compromises between the two cultures have created a failure of accountability.