WASHINGTON — Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America Inc., which is facing federal allegations of pervasive sexual harassment and race and sex discrimination at its auto plant near Normal, Ill., has told government officials it is replacing its current legal team and does not plan to enter settlement talks any time soon.
Meanwhile, around the country, groups of protesters from the National Organization for Women and the Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition staged weekend picketing of Mitsubishi auto dealerships to urge the company to resolve the complaints.
In Chicago, two Mitsubishi representatives met late Friday with lawyers at the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in a session that Chicago EEOC Director John Rowe characterized as "cordial" but not particularly substantive. The EEOC had had no official contact with the company since it filed suit April 9, alleging that a lengthy investigation had found the most pervasive incidence of sexual harassment at any company in the agency's 32-year history.
"It's certainly too early to say the case won't be resolved by settlement at some future point, but there's no reason to believe it will be soon--or that it was advanced by the meeting," Rowe said.
Rowe said the two Mitsubishi representatives--Lowell W. Perry, an EEOC chief, and John W. Frasco, a labor lawyer who has handled sexual-harassment grievances for the company--indicated they would not participate. In addition, Rowe said they were told, the law firm Keck, Mahin & Cate will no longer represent Mitsubishi.