Ford Executive Who Settled Company's Sex and Race Harassment Probe Leaves Abruptly, Apologizes for Behavior

Updated | Ford announced the departure of its Executive Vice President and North America President Raj Nair on Tuesday, following an internal probe that found his behavior to be "inconsistent with the company's code of conduct."

The Michigan-based automotive giant did not elaborate on what kind of allegations prompted the internal investigation into the executive's behavior, but the press statement carrying the announcement included Nair's apology.

"I sincerely regret that there have been instances where I have not exhibited leadership behaviors consistent with the principles that the Company and I have always espoused," the executive said in the statement.

Nair, who was appointed to the role in May, is set to lose almost $5 million worth of Ford shares, which would have been paid out if he had stayed in his role until May 2020, according to Reuters.

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Raj Nair speaks during a keynote address by President and CEO of Ford Motor Co. Mark Fields at the 2015 International CES at The Venetian Las Vegas on January 6, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

A few months after Nair's appointment, the company agreed to pay up to $10,125 million to settle a sex and race harassment investigation led by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

"The EEOC found reasonable cause to believe that personnel at two Ford facilities in the Chicago area, the Chicago Assembly Plant and the Chicago Stamping Plant, had subjected female and African-American employees to sexual and racial harassment," the federal agency wrote in a statement about the case dated August 15. "The EEOC also found that the company retaliated against employees who complained about the harassment or discrimination."

Another sexual harassment lawsuit filed three years ago against the company concerning the two Chicago plants is currently making its way through the court system. Tonya Exum, Christie Van and Miyoshi Morris, three women who are current and former employees at the facilities, detailed the harassment suffered at the hands of their supervisors and union representatives at the Chicago City Council's Finance Committee on Tuesday, as the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Exum, Van and Morris were some of the women who shared their experiences of intimidation, bullying and groping at the Ford plants with The New York Times in December, as the publication that first reported on the Harvey Weinstein scandal—a watershed moment in the fight against gender-based violence and discrimination that launched the #MeToo movement, unearthing dozens of stories of harassment and assault—turned its attention to blue-collar workplaces.

Ford President and CEO Jim Hackett wrote an open letter in response to the reporting in the Times on the company, apologizing to its employees. "On behalf of myself and the employees of Ford Motor Company, who condemn such behavior and regret any harassment as much as I do, I apologize. More importantly, I promise that we will learn from this and we will do better," the open letter read.

"There is absolutely no room for harassment at Ford Motor Company," Hackett's letter continued. "We don't want you here and we will move you out for engaging in any behavior like this."

In commenting on Nair's departure, Hackett reaffirmed the company's efforts to stamping out sexual harassment. "We made this decision after a thorough review and careful consideration," he was quoted as saying in Tuesday's press statement. "Ford is deeply committed to providing and nurturing a safe and respectful culture and we expect our leaders to fully uphold these values."

The headline of this article was changed to reflect that Ford executive Raj Nair settled cases brought against the company, rather than him.

Ford Executive Who Settled Company's Sex and Race Harassment Probe Leaves Abruptly, Apologizes for Behavior | U.S.