Mitsubishi programs seek to address troubles Harassment seminar is in response to suit BTCSO: REUTERS

July 17, 1996

CHICAGO -- Mitsubishi Motors Manufacturing of America Inc., saying it is trying to resolve a huge federal sexual harassment lawsuit, detailed training programs yesterday designed to protect and promote women and minority workers.

Executives of the unit of Mitsubishi Motors Corp. of Japan admitted that the training programs and new executives hired to oversee sensitivity and diversity issues were prompted by the lawsuit filed this year by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

"It's given Mitsubishi an extraordinary opportunity to leap forward," said former U.S. Labor Secretary Lynn Martin, the consultant brought in two months ago to deal with sexual harassment issues at Mitsubishi's Normal, Ill., factory.

"Are we saying that Mitsubishi can be better? Yes, absolutely. The case is in litigation, but that does not preclude us from reaching for excellence," she said.

Some 4,000 managers and workers at the company's lone U.S. plant each will receive one full day of training in how to deal with harassment in the workplace.

Mitsubishi also hired two executives with expertise in affirmative action issues. Several consulting firms, including Washington pollster Peter Hart's company, will work with the company.

Martin said she could not estimate expenditures Mitsubishi is making to institute the programs, which she said were far ahead of most U.S. manufacturers.

She said only 38 percent of U.S. companies give employees training in how to spot and stop sexual harassment in the workplace.

Included in the package are plans to post nonunion job openings and programs to create more minority-run Mitsubishi car dealerships in the United States. No specific quotas would be involved, executives said.

Chairman Tsuneo Ohinouye, who announced the executive hirings, said the company has officially denied the allegations in the EEOC lawsuit, which says 500 to 700 female workers were fondled or verbally harassed. Each claim could amount to $300,000, making it the largest sexual harassment suit ever brought by the agency.

Ohinouye said the company is "assessing the validity and scope of the claims that have been made in the EEOC lawsuit," which was filed in April in U.S. District Court in Peoria, Ill.

"We remain committed to working with the EEOC to resolve this issue quickly and fairly for all involved parties," Ohinouye said.

The company also faces a related private lawsuit brought by several female plant workers.

Pub Date: 7/17/96

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