Women at Chicago's Ford Motor plants speak out on sex abuse, harassment
Dozens of women at Chicago's two Ford Motor plants spoke out Thursday about their claims of sexual abuse and harassment.
They testified in front of the Illinois House Sexual Discrimination and Harassment Task Force, a group looking into ways to combat instances of harassment.
The allegations stretch from groping and physical abuse to lewd conversations and retaliatory behavior.
Many of the women claim they lost their jobs after filing complaints.
“When I asked the union's plant chairman for assistance, that if I wanted his help, I had to get down on my knees,” said Miyoshi Morris.
For a second time in two decades, the two Chicago-area plants are dealing with similar complaints.
“I was scared because I didn't know what they were going to do,” said Charmella Leviege. “It's like a doggone prison in there who's going to stop them? Nobody is going to stop them! They have too much money and we are just like pawns.”
In August, Ford paid a $10 million settlement over the harassment complaints. Ford settled a similar case in 1999 paying $22 million and promising to "crack down" on such behavior.
Keith Hunt represents more than 50 women with similar complaints and is working to make it a class action lawsuit.
“Why not have legislation that requires training for all employers?” asked Hunt to the task force made up of state lawmakers.
He also suggests allowing victims more than the current 6 months to file a claim of harassment with the state.
State Representative Michael McAuliffe agrees that things need to change.
“Working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle of legislation trying to make Illinois and your lives a better state,” said Rep. McAuliffe a republican from Chicago.
The Ford CEO has apologized to employees for this workplace conduct.