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EEOC, Mitsubishi To Settle Lawsuit

June 11, 1998

CHICAGO (AP) _ The federal government is settling its lawsuit against Mitsubishi Motors over sexual harassment at its plant in Normal, Ill., officials of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Wednesday.

Officials of the agency will join Mitsubishi representatives to discuss the settlement at a joint news conference here Thursday. Neither side would release any details Wednesday.

The EEOC had sued Mitsubishi in April 1996 in what became the largest sexual harassment lawsuit in U.S. history.

The Washington Post, citing sources it did not identify, reported in Thursday’s editions that the settlement would be worth more than $10 million, making it the largest settlement in a sexual harassment case.

The Post also said the terms would include conditions imposed by the EEOC on the plant’s operations and personnel practices. One source told the newspaper the pact would result in the use of federally appointed monitors to oversee compliance with the settlement.

The class-action lawsuit claimed that sexual harassment at the Mitsubishi plant was ``repeated, routine, generalized, serious, pervasive and known to and supported by management.″ It alleged the company allowed women to be groped and subjected to lewd jokes and behavior.

The announcement of the settlement came two days before a hearing on how settlement talks were progressing. U.S. District Judge Joe Billy McDade has encouraged a settlement of the lawsuit, and in mid-April appointed retired U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Abner J. Mikva to a special 30-day term to encourage settlement talks between the EEOC and Mitsubishi.

Both sides agreed to continue the talks after Mikva’s original 30-day period of oversight ended in May. McDade instructed lawyers for both the EEOC and Mitsubishi not to talk publicly about the negotiations.

A separate lawsuit filed in 1994 by 27 women, who complained of groping, fondling and other harassment while working on the plant’s assembly line, was settled by Mitsubishi last year. Part of that settlement reportedly saw Mitsubishi pay the women $9.5 million.

Workers in the plant said Wednesday they didn’t know much about the latest settlement.

``We heard there was going to be a settlement, but there’s been no talk of any of what that means, of the details,″ said Chuck Kearney, president of the United Auto Workers local at the Normal plant.

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