It's easy to forget, amid the success stories and surging sales charts, that Toyota's half century in the United States had some ugly moments, too. And things didn't get much uglier than in May 2006, when a sex scandal knocked Hollywood celebrities off the tabloid covers and cast the demure automaker into the spotlight.
"OH, WHAT A FEELING! Toyota boss groped me," screamed the New York Post.
Toyota's famous tag line ran atop a lurid account of a sexual harassment suit filed by employee Sayaka Kobayashi, then 42, who alleged that Toyota's top U.S. executive groped, harassed and relentlessly pursued her.
In August 2006, Toyota settled for an undisclosed sum Kobayashi's sexual harassment lawsuit against Toyota Motor North America Inc. and CEO Hideaki Otaka, then 65. Both Otaka and Kobayashi, who had been Otaka's assistant in New York, since have left the company.
In her suit, which sought $190 million in damages in New York state court, Kobayashi alleged that Otaka sexually harassed her from August 2005 to January 2006. The lawsuit alleged Toyota did little to stop Kobayashi's torment after she complained.