Ford President Apologizes for Harassment at Chicago Plants

Jim Hackett said he's sorry days after a report detailed sexual and racial harassment of former and current female workers.  

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Jim Hackett, president and CEO of Ford, is apologizing for long-running discrimination and sexual harassment at his company, saying the automaker will work harder to enforce a zero-tolerance policy towards the behavior.

"Candidly, it was gut wrenching to read the accounts of these women," said Hackett of the New York Times piece published Tuesday. It detailed behavior by still-employed men at two Ford plants in Chicago that included parading new female hires on factory floors amid calls of "fresh meat" by workers.

"I am sorry for any instance where a colleague was subjected to harassment or discriminatory conduct. On behalf myself and the employees of Ford Motor Company, who condemn such behavior and regret any harassment as much as I do, I apologize," wrote Hackett in an open letter emailed by Ford to The Drive. "More importantly, I promise that we will learn from this and we will do better."

In August, Ford agreed to pay $10.13 million to settle claims involving the treatment of women at the factories in Chicago with the federal government. In his letter, Hackett cited an earlier settlement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1999 as evidence the issue was nothing new at his multi-national corporation. 

Specifically, Hackett promised to fire employees found to be involved in the behavior and said workers who complained about their treatment would not be subject to retaliation. On Friday, the Times reported that one female who has worked at Ford since 1991 and joined a lawsuit against the company in the 1990s had her pay docked by a supervisor after the newspaper published its story.