Toyota Settles $190 Million Sex Harassment Suit

Toyota has settled a $190 million sexual-harassment lawsuit that resulted in the car-maker's top U.S. officer leaving his position. The settlement also resulted in a new policy for reporting harassment allegations against the top executive at the company, as well as changes in Toyota's training and employment procedures.

HR Experts are saying that the new procedure will likely be adopted by company's across the country. At the very least, HR departments should take this as an opportunity to reexamine how their systems address allegations against company officials at the highest levels.

In Toyota's case, the plaintiff alleged she complained to Toyota Motor North America's then-senior vice president in charge of human resources, but nothing was done. This was despite the seriousness of her allegations. She charged that Toyota North America CEO Hideaki Otaka was not just making off-color comments but trying to force her to have sex. Otaka denied any wrongdoing, but he left his U.S. post and returned to Japan earlier than planned. He now is retired.

Toyota has created a task force headed by former Labor secretary Alexis Herman to review its sexual-harassment policies. Additionally, Company policy has changed so that allegations of misconduct against an executive must be investigated immediately and reported to the executive's superior. If the executive being accused happens to be the chairman, CEO or president, a report has to be made directly to the company's board of directors.

Coverage from the Chicago Tribune.