The law is becoming clearer on what exactly constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace. Legal experts such as Ty Hyderally have been successfully litigating cases which set new precedents in the legal world. This class action suit which was filed against the Mitsubishi Corporation is an example of successful litigation. This is a case wherein sexual harassment in the workplace got totally out of hand and became a sexually hostile environment.
A class action law suit was filed against Mitsubishi Motors Corp by the United States Equal Employment Opportunities Commission on April 9, 1996. The suit contained over 300 claims by women who worked at the Normal, Illinois Mitsubishi plant. Their claims were that they had been subjected to repeated sexual harassment in the workplace which began as early as 1988. The EEOC alleged that managers had been involved in passing around pornographic photographs of male workers displaying sexual acts, male workers who had exposed themselves, obscene graffiti and assaults (both physical and verbal) against women who worked at the plant. The second part of the class action suit stated that the management and Employee Relations Department failed to respond adequately. Many times there was no response at all to the complaints filed by women who had filed regarding the harassment. EEOC pursued the case to stop the harassment and also to obtain some compensation for the women who had been harassed.
Mitsubishi tried to argue that there were time constraints on some of the older cases and therefore they were not eligible to be included in the class action law suit. However, the court rejected the argument stating that there is not a statute of limitations and that EEOC did not unduly delay their actions.
On June 10, 1998, the EEOC and Mitsubishi reached a settlement. Mitsubishi agreed to pay $34 million in compensation to the workers who had been affected. The company also agreed that they would revamp their sexual harassment policies and adapt a “zero tolerance” policy toward sexual harassment. This meant that they would revise the company’s existent policies and commit to setting up a proper complaint procedure as well as sexual harassment training for its employees. Mitsubishi would also be under review by an independent panel which would monitor the progress at the Normal, Illinois plant. Mitsubishi did become vigilant in their stand against sexual harassment in the workplace and hired Lynn Martin, former Secretary of Labor to help overhaul the system. They now boast a zero tolerance policy.
Sexual harassment is unfortunately part of the day to day life of many workers around the country and makes going to work difficult for many, fortunately there are employment law attorneys such as Tayeb Hyderally who are there to fight vigorously for the rights of all employees.