Toyota Settles US Sexual Harassment Lawsuit August 9, 2006Posted by C.A.R.D in Automaker, Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination, Complaint, Embarrassment, harassment, Japanese, Kobayashi, Lawsuit, Otaka, Sayaka Kobayashi, Settles, sexual conduct, Sexual harassment, Toyota, US.
Toyota Motor Corp. said on Friday it had settled a sexual harassment lawsuit against the Japanese automaker’s former top U.S. executive.The lawsuit had threatened to become a major embarrassment for Toyota at a time when the company’s sales have been booming in the United States and it is on the verge of overtaking General Motors Corp. as the world’s biggest automaker.
Toyota said in a statement that the automaker and the employee who brought the lawsuit against former Toyota North America Chief Executive Hideaki Otaka had agreed to keep terms of the settlement confidential.
“We are very pleased to have resolved this matter in a way that all parties have agreed is fair, appropriate, and mutually satisfactory to all concerned,” Toyota Motor North America said in a statement.
Sayaka Kobayashi, a Toyota employee, had filed a $190-million lawsuit against the automaker accusing Otaka of sexually harassing her while other Toyota executives failed to act on her complaints.
In the fallout from the lawsuit, Otaka, 65, was sent from New York in June to Japan to become an auditor at the Tokyo affiliate Daihatsu Motor Co. Ltd.
Otaka was replaced by Jim Press, the first American president of the Japanese car makers U.S. operating unit.
In her lawsuit, filed in New York state court in early May, Kobayashi, an employee in Toyota’s corporate planning office, sought $40 million for injury to her career and emotional distress plus $150 million in punitive damages.
Kobayashi, 42, had claimed in the lawsuit that Otaka repeatedly asked her to accompany him to lunches, walks in Central Park and on business trips, where he tried to engage in sexual conduct with her.
She said that her complaint to Toyota’s second-highest ranking U.S. executive had been ignored.
Toyota’s U.S. sales were up 10 percent in the first seven months of the year and the company overtook Ford Motor Co. as the No. 2 automaker by sales for the first time in July.