Companies that are being sued rarely attempt to argue the merits of the cases in the media. But last week, Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America Inc. issued a 'State of the Workplace Report' that - at least indirectly - presents counterpoints to a racial discrimination lawsuit it faces.
Last month, nine black workers at Mitsubishi's plant in Normal, Ill., filed a lawsuit against Mitsubishi in U.S. District Court in Peoria, Ill. They alleged that they were subjected to racial insults and discrimination. They claimed they have been passed over for promotions, bullied, taunted and even pelted with eggs because of their race.
The lawsuit alleges that efforts to report the incidents to the plant's authorities were snubbed.
But in its workplace report last week, Mitsubishi said that it recently has undergone third-party audits of its human resource policies and behavior. The audits found that 'frequent or widespread race or national origin discrimination is not occurring' at the plant.
The new lawsuit opens an old wound for the automaker. In 1996, a sexual harassment lawsuit by a group of female Mitsubishi employees triggered an investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The new lawsuit - presented by the attorney who presented the sexual harassment lawsuit - claims that the special department did nothing to stop the alleged racial harassment.
But, according to the company report issued last week, one of the audits, conducted under an agreement with the EEOC by outside 'consent decree monitors,' also concluded that 'complaints are addressed in a priority manner.'
According to the company, the audit found that Mitsubishi now follows what the EEOC considers 'best practices' in handling discrimination and 'far exceeds any legal requirements' on hiring and promotion issues.