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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name EEOC v. Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America, Inc EE-IL-0259
Docket / Court 1:96-cv-01192-JBM ( C.D. Ill. )
State/Territory Illinois
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Attorney Organization EEOC
Case Summary
This employment discrimination class action involving women employed at the Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America, Inc., Normal, Illinois' facility was filed on April 9, 1996, in the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois (Peoria). The U.S. Equal Employment ... read more >
This employment discrimination class action involving women employed at the Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America, Inc., Normal, Illinois' facility was filed on April 9, 1996, in the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois (Peoria). The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"), sought declaratory, monetary and injunctive relief, on behalf of the women, claiming that Mitsubishi violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Civil Rights Act of 1991, by engaging in a pattern and practice of sexual harassment, retaliation, and constructive discharge against female employees.

Specifically, the complaint alleged that, since at least 1990, Mitsubishi had engaged in various unlawful discriminatory and retaliatory conduct, including but not limited to, (1) sexual harassment towards female employees by way of a hostile and abusive work environment based on unwelcome verbal and physical sexual conduct, including sexual graffiti, sexually derogatory comments, and unwanted groping and touching; (2) sexual harassment towards female employees by conditioning their employment (including benefits and/or the terms and/or conditions of their employment) "on their acquiesce in sexual harassment and/or sexual relationships;" (3) the failure to take immediate and appropriate corrective action in response to complaints; (4) retaliation against female employees who have opposed such unlawful practices; and (5) constructively discharging female employees by causing them to resign due to complaints of sexual harassment and retaliation.

The EEOC requested a permanent injunction forbidding discrimination or retaliation and requiring Mitsubishi to implement polices protecting equal employment opportunities for women; monetary damages; punitive damages; and costs.

On September 13, 1996, the EEOC sent a letter to all current and former female employees of the defendant, stating that such employees "should know that [they] are not required to discuss any issues relating to this lawsuit with Mitsubishi's Human Resource Department." A month later, Mitsubishi complained that the letter was potentially misleading and filed a motion for clarification of the letter. Additionally, Mitsubishi argued that the letter undermined its policy of addressing and correcting sexual harassment issues, thereby making sexual harassment more difficult to prevent.

In November of 1996, the court ordered the EEOC to send a corrective letter. The EEOC appealed, and sought a stay from the 7th Circuit. In an opinion by Judge Easterbrook, the Court of Appeals refused the stay, and held that it lacked jurisdiction over the appeal, which dealt with an issue that was managerial and was unlikely to cause substantial and irreversible damage. 102 F.3d 869 (7th Cir. 1996).

Soon afterwards, Mitsubishi's human resources department began to conduct "scripted interviews" of its employees on topics relating to "claims of sexual harassment that had not previously been brought to the Company's attention," when such claims were revealed through Mitsubishi's litigation-related discovery of the EEOC's administrative files. Mitsubishi stated that the purpose of the interviews was to ensure "no ongoing harassment" in the workplace. Upon the conclusion of each interview, the interviewers would type notes from the interviews and then ask the interviewees to review and sign the notes.

Once the EEOC found out about these interviews, they demanded that they stop immediatly. Mitsubishi agreed in January 1997 "not to engage in any ex parte contacts" with current or former employees who have presented complaints regarding sexual harassment and/or retaliation to the EEOC "prior to the filing of the lawsuit." A month later, instead, the parties came up with a mutually agreeable "mini-deposition" approach regarding information gathering: the EEOC attorneys were to be present and the interviews would be conducted as "notice depositions" according to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Further contests about communications with employees led to another opinion in January 2008. 960 F.Supp. 164 (C.D.Ill. 1997).

Shortly thereafter, a Consent Decree ("Decree") was entered on June 23, 1998, which also settled two private actions, Evans v. Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America, Inc. (1:94-­cv-­1545) and Aeschelman v. Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America, Inc. (1:96-­cv-1212), filed against Mitsubishi alleging sex discrimination and harassment. In the Decree, Mitsubishi agreed to pay $34 million to the individuals who had suffered sexual harassment at Mitsubishi's facility in Normal, Illinois; and to comprehensive injunctive relief. The injunction forbade discriminatory acts on the basis of sex and policies or practices that have the effect of harassing or intimidating women on the basis of their sex; and Title VII related retaliation. It required revised sexual harassment policy, training procedures, and complaint procedures and policies designed to promote supervisor accountability and policies reflecting sensitivity to women's needs. And it set up a panel of consent decree monitors and a complaint monitor. The Decree was, in accordance with its plan, in effect for three years, from 1998 to 2001.

According to a press release from the EEOC, the $34 million monetary relief awarded by the Decree, which was distributed among more than 400 women, was "the largest sexual harassment settlement in the history of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964" as of the late 1990s.

Alice Liu - 07/14/2013


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Monitor/Master
Monitoring
Provide antidiscrimination training
Reinstatement
Reporting
Retaliation Prohibition
Defendant-type
Retailer
Discrimination-area
Discharge / Constructive Discharge / Layoff
Harassment / Hostile Work Environment
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
EEOC-centric
Direct Suit on Merits
General
Disparate Treatment
Pattern or Practice
Retaliation
Plaintiff Type
EEOC Plaintiff
Causes of Action Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
Defendant(s) Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America, Inc.
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs are all current and former female employees of Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America, Inc. at the Normal, Illinois plant.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations EEOC
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1998 - 2001
Case Closing Year 2001
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Ending Sex and Race Discrimination in the Workplace: Legal Interventions That Push the Envelope
Institute for Women's Policy Research
Written: Mar. 01, 2011
By: Ariane Hegewisch, Cynthia Deitch, Evelyn Murphy (Institute for Women's Policy Research & The Wage Project)
Citation: (Institute for Women's Policy Research, March 2011)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Megacases, Diversity, and the Elusive Goal of Workplace Reform
Written: Mar. 01, 2008
By: Nancy Levit (University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law)
Citation: 49 B.C. L. Rev. 367 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Second Generation Employment Discrimination: A Structural Approach
By: Susan Sturm (Columbia Law School)
Citation: 101 Colum. L. Rev. 458 (2001)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:94−cv−01545 (C.D. Ill.) 07/23/1999
EE-IL-0259-9001.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
1:96-cv-01192-JBM (C.D. Ill.) 05/23/2001
EE-IL-0259-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
1:96−cv−01212 (C.D. Ill.) 01/09/2013
EE-IL-0259-9002.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 04/06/1996
EE-IL-0259-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
EEOC Chairman Comments on Lawsuit Against Mitsubishi 04/22/1996
EE-IL-0259-0002.pdf | Detail
Opinion 11/27/1996 (102 F.3d 869)
EE-IL-0259-0012.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Order 03/24/1997 (960 F.Supp. 164) (C.D. Ill.)
EE-IL-0259-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Order [Denying Motion for S/J] 01/20/1998 (990 F.Supp. 1059) (C.D. Ill.)
EE-IL-0259-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
EEOC Scores Major Victory in Mitsubishi Lawsuit 01/21/1998
EE-IL-0259-0004.pdf | Detail
Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing and EEOC Reach Voluntary Agreement to Settle Harassment Suit 06/11/1998
EE-IL-0259-0006.pdf | Detail
Joint Motion for Entry of Consent Decree / Consent Decree 06/23/1998
EE-IL-0259-0001.pdf | Detail
Monitors Say Mitsubishi Still in Compliance with EEOC Consent Decree; Sexual Harassment "Firmly Under Control" at U.S. Plant 09/06/2000
EE-IL-0259-0005.pdf | Detail
EEOC Responds to Final Report of Mitsubishi Consent Decree Monitors 05/23/2001
EE-IL-0259-0003.pdf | Detail
Judges Kauffman, Robert J. (C.D. Ill.) [Magistrate]
EE-IL-0259-9002
McDade, Joe Billy (C.D. Ill.)
EE-IL-0259-9002
Mihm, Michael Martin (C.D. Ill.)
EE-IL-0259-9001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Allison, William A (Illinois)
EE-IL-0259-9001
Benassi, Patricia Clarke (Illinois)
EE-IL-0259-9001
Galland, George Freeman Jr. (Illinois)
EE-IL-0259-9001
Garrison, Joseph D. (Connecticut)
EE-IL-0259-9001
Gray, Rosalind D. (Maryland)
EE-IL-0259-0007
Hendrickson, John C. (Illinois)
EE-IL-0259-0007
Levine, Steven J (Illinois)
EE-IL-0259-9001
Palter, Michele Lang (Connecticut)
EE-IL-0259-9001
Schmidt, Randall D (Illinois)
EE-IL-0259-9001
Slevin, John A (Illinois)
EE-IL-0259-9001
Snyder, Deborah Krauss (Connecticut)
EE-IL-0259-9001
Spaits, Kim L (Illinois)
EE-IL-0259-9002
Stewart, C. Gregory (District of Columbia)
EE-IL-0259-0007
Defendant's Lawyers Brandt, Peter W. (Illinois)
EE-IL-0259-9001 | EE-IL-0259-9002
Braskich, Keith J (Illinois)
EE-IL-0259-9001 | EE-IL-0259-9002
Connolly, Walter B. Jr. (Michigan)
EE-IL-0259-9001 | EE-IL-0259-9002
Davis, Roy G. (Illinois)
EE-IL-0259-9001
DeQuick, Clara G (Michigan)
EE-IL-0259-9001
Donati, Donna J (Michigan)
EE-IL-0259-9001
Haddad, Yvonne R. (New Jersey)
EE-IL-0259-9001
Marshall, Alison B. (District of Columbia)
EE-IL-0259-9001 | EE-IL-0259-9002
Other Lawyers Galassi, Julie L (Illinois)
EE-IL-0259-9001
Rock, Jeffrey B (Illinois)
EE-IL-0259-9001

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