Sexual Harassment on PBS

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Online NewsHour: Mitsubishi Sexual Harassment Suit

The PBS program aired just a few days after a lawsuit against Mitsubishi Motors was filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) after extensive investigation.

Sexual Harassment Allegations

Sandra Rushing, who worked at the Mitsubishi Motors Manufacturing plant at Normal, Illinois for two years before leaving in disgust described that not only her male colleagues in the production line touched her, but also they used very large wrenches and air guns to put in-between her legs, preteding like they were their extensions.

Another woman, who fearful of losing her job didn't want her identity known, told about her being slapped on the butt and the person put a banana in his mouth and such insinuations in front of the group she worked in.

Many employees claimed that they never experienced sexual harassment at Mitsubishi. The program talked about their excellent wages that couldn't be found elsewhere in Normal, Illinois, could be reason for denial for many.

Civil Rights Lawyer on Sexual Harassment Environment at Mitsubishi

Civil rights attorney Patricia Benassi who found stories brought to her by 30 women so disturbing that she filed a lawsuit against the company in December of 1994. She talked about lack of training as a reason many women didn't perceived the workplace environment as sexual harassment. She talked about them hearing the word "bitch," seeing sexual graffiti written on the fenders of cars as they come through, seeing dirty jokes and pornographic pictures, hearing statements such as "women don't belong here," being subjected to an environment of retaliation just because they're a female.

She also talked about off-site sex parties where prostitutes were hired and pictures were taken. And these pictures were brought back and they were spread all over the break areas.

Mitsubishi Motors Organizes a Rally in Front of EEOC Office

Mitsubishi's company spokesperson Gary Shultz admitted to isolated incidents of sexual harassment off-camera but said the company had a zero tolerance policy which had been effective in deterring such behavior since the day the plant opened.

Mitsubishi organized a rally. It paid for buses, provided lunch, and a day's pay. 2700 workers took a three-hour bus trip to Chicago. Wearing their Mitsubishi maroon shirts and chanting in front of the EEOC's office, Jeannette Potrzeba, Anna Rogers and their female co-workers said they wanted no part of the class action lawsuit. About 25 people stayed behind in the plant and they all had sexual harassment training.